I knew college was going to change me. I knew I'd meet new people, learn new skills, finally learn how to properly fold a fitted sheet (still haven't figured that one out), you know, just overall grow up a little bit. What I wasn't expecting was to change so much so quickly. I learned more about myself and grew more quickly than I had pretty much ever and the growing pains weren't pretty. Throughout my numerous nights laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, and wondering "what the hell am I doing?" I came to many revelations about college life and growing up in general. Here are seven of them.
No one really cares that much about you
Yeah I know it sounds a little harsh but just hear me out.
In junior high and most of high school, I was the epitome of dependent. I was not going anywhere alone; I had to have a friend with me in public or I simply was not going to wherever it was that I needed to go. Calling to make my own appointments? ha, that's a funny concept. Going to get food alone? lol, the AUDACITY. Well, kiddos, that all changes in college. I remember the first day I had to walk to a function and find where it was on campus by myself. It was the orientation for rush and my anxiety was HIGH. Looking back I have no clue what I was so worried about. Everyone was new, everyone was searching for where to go, everyone was nervous. No one was looking at me, no one even really noticed me because they were busy looking for where they needed to go too. This will be very apparent once classes start and everyone is bustling around. You're going to see people walking to class still in their pajamas (one of those people will likely be me), you're going to see people napping on the floor and eating lunch in class. No one even gives them a second glance. Everyone is too busy worrying about what they need to get done, and honestly, it's such a freeing feeling. My point is, don't be afraid to go eat lunch by yourself. Don't be worried you'll be judged if you don't really know what's going on all the time. Don't give yourself anxiety about finding your new classrooms. Everyone is focused on getting themselves food, or figuring their own things out, or finding their own classes. So go to the cafeteria alone and get seconds. I promise there will be twenty other people eating alone too.
Time is your best friend
I was confident coming into college because I felt very academically prepared, however, what I was definitely not prepared for was the importance of time management. This was an almost foreign concept to me. I was a professional procrastinator with the ability to cram-study very well. So yeah, time management was not my forte. I had to learn the hard way just how important it is for school and life. One of the biggest tips I could give is to start practicing discipline and get out of the habit of procrastinating early! Like way before you go to school! Because figuring that out when you're already there sucks!
Good things happen when you push yourself (but not too hard)
College naturally forces kids to get out of their comfort zones and start to push themselves, but I encourage you to take it a step further. Do extra things. Sign up for that club, tryout for that organization, apply for that job, volunteer for things you think will give you experiences to prepare you for your field of study. Put more things on your plate than you're used to. This area of school actually really scared me at first; I wasn't used to having many commitments or having to prioritize things, but this may be the part of school that helped me grow the most, even though the growing pains sucked. Between keeping my grades up, a sorority, trying to maintain a social life, a long-distance relationship, and now three separate organizations (haha hey Odyssey) on top of basic self-care and routine activities...yeah it got a little overwhelming my first semester. Honestly, it kind of sucked sometimes. But now, even though I'm only about two months into my second semester, I can say it gets so much easier and it's all worth it. Taking on these things will help you grow so much not only personally, but in various skills, you'll need in life and the workforce. BUT. I can't stress the importance of identifying the fine line between pushing yourself towards growth and tearing yourself down. Sure, there's a transition process with all of this where you might not feel awesome, but if you continue to feel stressed and unhappy for a long time, there is nothing wrong with dropping a thing or two. Don't overwork yourself. Which leads me to self-care:
Self-care (and I cannot stress this enough) is key
Listen, there will be all-nighters, there will be days you forget to eat dinner, there will be days when you're sick but you have to get everything done anyway, and there will be weeks you'll feel stressed. But if all-nighters and forgetting to eat become routine, if those stress weeks turn into months, it's time to reign it in a bit. If you're anything like me, you just won't be able to optimize your work efforts if you're not taking care of yourself, and I think most people can agree with that. I know it's a trend right now to joke about college life and how stressful it can be and how many nights in a row you stayed up studying for an exam but in the long run, it's really unhealthy and can be really damaging to your grades if you let it go on too long. Stop. For like thirty minutes just stop, take a shower, make some dinner, talk to your friends, and relax. You can't be your best if you don't feel your best.
Do. Not. Compare.
This may be the hardest thing to learn for some people, including myself. Comparison kills. Just because your grades aren't as high as he doesn't mean you're stupid. Just because she got picked over you for a certain position doesn't mean you're less likable. There are so many new and diverse people in college all striving for the same things; it's competitive out there, folks. Learn to acknowledge other people's good qualities without diminishing your own. Make it a habit to appreciate yourself.
Seek help if you need it
While college is the time in your life you need to start growing up, everyone also realizes it's a transition process. I promise you the adults working at your school realize this too and expect you to ask for help when you need it in just about any area of life. There are so many resources at my campus not only for academics but for life skills, mental health, transitioning to college, time management, study skills, I mean anything you could ever need. Don't be afraid to email your professor or make an appointment with your advisor. There's nothing wrong with asking for help.
I know you're in school for your education; grades come first but college is meant to be fun too. Go out, see your friends, go to the sporting events and the date parties and anything you can. Make having fun in this time of your life a priority because in 10 years you're probably going to have a mortgage and bills and that's gonna suck.