As graduation approaches (or for some, it may have already flown by), it’s inevitable to feel nostalgic about the time spent at college. You look over the past four years and feel a sense of comfort and familiarity, yet in the same breath have to look toward an unknowing future, one filled with uncomfortable newness and even worse… adulting. It’s important to take a second and reflect on all the ways that college has helped you develop into the person you are today.
Here are eight ways you’ve grown from freshman year:
1. You’ve Learned the Ins and Outs
You finally have the timing right for doing laundry and hitting the gym when it’s not flooded with a million people. Things like taking the elevator to the second floor are acceptable, simply because you can. You’ve learned what security guards, RA’s, and dining services staff are going to be more lenient with “the rules.” Instead of showing up ten minutes early like the first couple of weeks, you’ve managed to calculate down to the exact second that you can leave your dorm room and still make it to class on time. Remotely on time.
2. Your Excuses Have Improved
By your last year, you’ve become an absolute mastermind when it comes to explaining why you just can’t make it to that 8 a.m. You’ve figured out how to convince any professor of a mysterious stomach bug or “family emergency.” Attendance policy in the syllabus? Nothing an elaborate email can’t fix.
3. Going Out is… Different
When you go to your first couple of parties, it seems like the most important thing is spending hours getting ready, trying on numerous outfits while choking down a sugary mixed drink (that for some reason always tastes like coconut), and taking a million pictures with friends in the process. Soon that gets old. By senior year, it’s more who you’re hanging out with and what you’re doing, regardless of what you look like. Similarly, you start to value quality over quantity when it comes to company. Yes, it’s always fun going to a sweaty, packed bar for karaoke night, but a conversation at 4 a.m. with your closest friends can be even better.
4. High School Friends
This is a difficult one for a lot of people, but is undeniably a major way in which we all change in college. When you first go to school, you’re absolutely positive you’re going to keep in touch with every single one of your high school BFFs (you know, the ones you used to line up with on the stairs for semi-formal pictures). Unfortunately, as time goes by, that list dwindles. It’s not a “falling out,” but rather an understanding that people go different ways. By senior year, you’ve most-likely recognized the handful of friends that you will be close with the rest of your life.
5. The Relationship with Your Parents
“What did you get on your quiz?” “Are you studying?” “Are you eating right?” “Why haven’t you called me?” You’re bombarded by calls and texts when you’re a freshman. Parents still think it’s acceptable to call and talk to a professor or coach if there’s an issue, rather than letting you handle it yourself. By senior year, with more space and trust, you genuinely start to look forward to filling your parents in on things and your weekly talks. Instead of it feeling like a chore, you reach out to your parents for advice and support. In fact, it’s almost the exact opposite of when they were nagging you; when it comes to help with filling out student loan information, you can’t seem to get a hold of them on their cell phone.
6. You’ve Learned Your Worth
When it comes to dating and interacting with people you are attracted to, college is the ultimate place of opportunity. You are exposed to multiple types of people that treat you all sorts of ways. You learn, through trial and error, that a text asking to hangout at 2 a.m. has nuances. You learn that somebody acknowledging you in the campus center when they’re sober does not really mean anything. By senior year, you’re able to see things for exactly what they are, and get to decide the role that you want to play in them. There’s less games and interpretations and false flattery. It’s a little bit clearer the things you’re looking for and the type of people that are (or aren’t) going to provide that.
7. Alone Time and Independence
It used to be that the idea of getting food at the campus center alone or walking to class solo was absolutely terrifying. Now it’s no big deal. You become more comfortable with being independent, and more confident even when you don’t have other people to back you up. The concept of having downtime keeps you sane, along with a blooming relationship with Netflix.
8. You Figured Out Who You Are
OK, maybe that sounds cheesy. But it’s true, even if just a little bit. Whether it’s evident right now, your identity has become more sculpted over the past four years. Without parents and other securities from your childhood pulling you in certain directions, you were free to make your own mistakes, discover your own interests, and be your own person. Although it’s intimidating to feel like you have no idea what’s going to happen next, college has pushed you towards a place of finding what you want in life.