As my time as a college student comes to a close, I can't help but reminisce. I'm taken back to some of the best and worst times of my life. Reminiscing brings pain, joy, and awe as I realize how far I've come since my freshman year. I realize that while this may not have been the college experience I expected, it has been great. I believe God used my college career to grow me into a better woman and Christian. Here are the 16 most important things I learned from college.
1. Life is short.
When you're a teenager, in high school, you think you have your whole life ahead of you. You feel like you're invincible as if someone gave your own guarantee for a long life. Chances are, once you get to college, your eyes are going to be opened to the harsh reality of this world. You realize that you are not guaranteed the next day.
2. Make time for your family.
This goes hand in hand with the number one lesson, life is short so don't forget to make time for the people who always made time for you. Take it from someone who knows, it's not fun to feel guilty about your time management after a family member's death.
3. Learn how to be organized, at least in some aspects of your life.
Organization is key to reducing stress, and I can't stress this enough! If you're like me and hate cleaning, don't worry, I'm not saying your house should be in tip-top shape 24/7, but I have noticed that when my school and work life aren't organized I feel major anxiety and stress. This leads to me shutting down and completely ignoring all the clutter which just leads to more clutter and stress.
4. Growing up means letting go.
Whether it's a person or something that happened to you, you realize that you can't carry around all that baggage forever. Letting go of high-school friends isn't easy -- maybe you feel like you're giving up on or abandoning them and that's not what you want to do, but sometimes it's what you have to do. When it comes to letting go of people we're like flowers. You've started to bloom but there something pulling on your roots, a weed, just isn't ready to blossom yet. You have to decide, are you gonna let that weed pull you back down and kill you or are you going to break free and blossom?
5. Who your real friends are.
College really shakes things up, for the first time in your life you aren't right around the block or down the road from your friends. You may go through a tough time only to find, the one by your side is not the one you expected. You may feel let down by your friends from home, likely they don't care about you anymore, they're too caught up in their new lives. Don't sulk in this sadness, take the time to open your eyes and see the ones who are by your side right now, realize that these people are your real friends. When you finally realize who these real friends are, it makes your life so much easier, you don't have to worry about maintaining so many friendships. Of course, you'll still probably remain friends with your old friends, but you won't be wasting time and energy on a friendship that only matters to you.
6. You can't prepare for change.
This is something I had to learn my first year when my life was turned upside down for the first time ever. I'm not a big fan of change, while some consider me a "free spirit" I do like to have some idea of what's going on or the game plan, so not being able to prepare for the hard times ahead took a toll on me. The idea of things changing so drastically got me so upset and when things actually did change, I got depressed. Here's the thing no matter how hard we try, we can't prepare for change. Life is a never-ending cycle of change and that may be the beauty of it. Change can be hard, but there is usually a silver-lining in even the worst kinds of change. It's never easy to choose to find the good in the bad, but when you are able to it helps you deal with change.
7. A good work ethic never hurt anyone.
My grandpa always stressed the importance of working hard and not being slack and I am so grateful for this. Working with a lot of younger people, I have noticed their work ethic just isn't very strong and it's not helping them. Listen guys, of course there are going to be tasks that you don't want to do at your job, but as an entry-level employee, you kind of don't have a choice. If you want to reach the top you have to be willing to put in the work and make the climb.
8. Having faith is important.
Faith is something that I struggled with in the beginning of my college career. I asked myself, "what even is faith?"
"Now faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see." - Hebrews 11:1
Coming to this realization helped me make it through these last few semesters. Being able to cast my troubles on my God helped me to become more calm and keep my focus in the midst of a storm.
9. Keep an open mind and respect other's opinions.
Coming from a small rural town to a big university can be quite the culture shock, but it's much-needed. You'll never advance in life if you don't know how to listen and value other's opinions.
10. Higher level math is pointless unless you're going into a profession that uses a lot of math.
Sorry mathematicians, but it's true unless your job requires advanced math, you'll be just fine with basic algebra skills.
11. You aren't the only one who doesn't remember the grammar lessons taught to you in elementary school.
Even as a writer, I still worry about grammar when I turn in papers and articles. There are some grammar mistakes you can get away with, but at least know the difference between "they're" (they are) and "their" (possessive).
12. Growing up sucks...
Remember when you couldn't wait to be a grown-up? Yeah, don't you wish you could time travel and smack younger you in the face for uttering those words? Having your own money and being able to "do whatever you want" actually isn't that awesome.
13. What tired really feels like.
All those times you thought you were tired were a freaking joke. After balancing school, work, and a social life, tired seems like an understatement.
14. It's OK to not be OK.
Life isn't all fun and carefree the older you get and that can cause a lot of wear-and-tear physically, mentally, and emotionally. It's OK to show that wear and tear every now and then, chances are you aren't the only one who isn't OK.
15. Don't always take things at face value.
This is probably the biggest and most important thing I learned in college. College classes challenge you to expand your horizons and explore other areas of thought, that you usually wouldn't. Don't be afraid to dig deeper and look for answers, ask questions, and challenge things.
16. Don't hold yourself back.
Lastly, you are your biggest obstacle. You hear excuses and validate them or even make your own excuses, but the reality is that you can do whatever you set your mind to if you have the passion, faith, and determination. Don't let your fears be bigger than your faith.