Today the sorority I'm in hosted a tea for legacies and their junior/senior daughters, and in so many of the girls' faces, I saw who I was a year ago.
When I was in their shoes, I was planning a graduation party, looking forward to prom, so excited to move out and experience "freedom," coordinating decorations with my future roommate, and eager to begin the whirlwind that is freshman year. I was so excited for the future, so much so that I had every single detail planned out. Looking back, I wish I could give my past self some advice. Most of it would be centering around the same ideas — don't plan your life out, take everything day-by-day, and approach every situation, friendship, class, and experience with open hands.
Chatting with those girls today put me into a mood of reminiscing, and it made me realize a lot of lessons I have learned so far this year. This is some advice to future freshman girls, and a way to look back and smile for girls in the same season as me.
1. The freshman 15 is a reality for all, so don't be too hard on yourself.
This reality hit me hard. Dining hall food is greasy and so unhealthy, and even if you try to eat lots of salads, you soon become burned out. Your weight will fluctuate a lot during your first year, so love yourself no matter what you look like.
2. Take lots of pictures, because one day you will want to look back and remember how much has changed in so little time.
Going through my camera roll always makes me smile. It is always so fun to look back to my first football game, or hanging out with my first college friends. It is also so fun to see how much has changed. Time flies by fast, so capture the moments if you can.
3. You are going to meet many "best friends" and not all of those relationships will work out.
I lost track of how many girls I met and instantly thought, "She is my person." I met so many amazing girls, which I would not change for the world, but some I don't even talk to anymore. College is a sea of so many people, and before you know it you will find your best friends. Don't lose hope if some relationships don't work out along the way.
4. Don't put too much pressure on your relationship with your roommate.
My roommate is an incredible human. Our relationship has been an adventure, to say the least — we both came in assuming we would be best friends. We are still good friends; however, we now run in different circles and that was the best thing for us. She is like a sister to me, and I am thankful to be her roomie.
5. Make friends outside of your sorority as well as within it.
I am so thankful for the unity of sororities within my friend group. Greek diversity is the best experience, and I value each of my friends outside of my chapter so much. They bring excitement and newness to my circle of friends, and I am so grateful that I did not isolate myself strictly within my sorority.
6. As much as you don't think it will happen, your parents will become your best friends and you are going to miss them like crazy.
At the end of my summer before freshman year, I was so eager to move away and experience life on my own. I knew I would miss my parents, but not as much as I actually do. Moving away from home made me realize how much I appreciate them, and how much I love them. I guess the saying is true — "You don't know what you have until it is gone." I still have my parents, of course, I just miss being so close to them.
7. You will look back to the start of freshman year and think, "Wow! A lot has changed!"
This statement speaks for itself. Who I was at the beginning of freshman year is so different than who I am now. I am still the same girl, I just have a whole lot of new experiences, relationships, and memories under my belt.
8. The transition between high school and college work can be brutal, so give yourself a learning curve.
Your teachers and parents don't lie to you when they say college is a whole lot harder than high school. You have to learn time management, how to prioritize, new study skills, and how to interact in an entirely new learning environment. Give yourself some room to mess up, but get your act together soon because grades matter in college (despite what many people say).
9. Ring by spring does not have to be your story.
Boy oh boy! Maybe it is just a Baylor thing, but ring by spring is a huge deal here. Take time to value each boy you meet as a friend, and worry about husband material later. This will save you many broken hearts. Value girlfriends above meeting "the one." This is the smartest choice I've made in college.
10. Learn how to set aside downtime.
College is such a busy time. In one weekend alone I can have a sorority formal, two tests to study for, a basketball game to attend, a coffee date with a friend, and church. During freshman year you are almost never alone (even in your room because you have a roommate). It is easy to burn yourself out and over-commit to too much, especially because you are so eager to make new friends. In the midst of all that is going on, it is so important that you find a quiet place to recharge and spend time with yourself. This ensures your internal happiness and that you will be the best person you can be towards others.
11. Just because you are in college doesn't mean you have to party and drink.
So far in college, I have gone to one party, and that was enough for me. I chose not to drink so I felt very out of place and did not have much fun. Most freshmen assume that you have to party to get the full college experience, but I haven't partied and I feel like I am getting along just fine. I have friends who are just like me, and partying is just not our scene. If you don't want to party, that is totally okay. Trust your gut feeling, and stay true to who you are. You will find people who have the same idea of fun; I promise they are out there.
12. Make the most out of every opportunity and push yourself to become a better human.
College is such a great time to grow, and it is the only time in your life that you can completely focus on yourself and your personal well-being. Explore yourself, schedule "me time," find your limits, pick up a new hobby, discover your outlets for stress, and chase earnestly after your relationship with Jesus. College is a time for YOU, so make sure the person you are when you graduate leaves with no regrets.