Do you ever find yourself wishing you could write a letter (or send a text) to the past you? This isn’t the first time I’ve found myself thinking this way, but rather than focusing on lessons learned in a negative way, I wanted to turn it into something positive. Today’s thoughts just happened to revolve around my college years.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over 4 years of college and nearly 2 years post-grad, it’s that everyone experiences college differently. This has a lot to do with the dynamics of your school, where you’re living, even whether or not you’re single. But sometimes, when I look at the lives of people who are currently students, I can’t help but reflect back and cast my experience in a somewhat negative light. I made more than a few (sometimes embarrassing) mistakes in college but here are the 5 lessons I learned the hard way, that I wish I hadn’t.
Your BF of 6 Months Isn’t the One
My dating life in college was flawed to say the least. My freshman year consisted mostly of an emotionally abusive relationship carried over from high school and until my junior year, it wasn’t a priority. My junior year, I reconnected with a friend from high school and, much to everyone’s surprise, we began dating. We got along well but didn’t have much in common and, in all honesty, I think we were just dating because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? You’re supposed to find your future wife/husband/whatever in college, at least according to society. I was headed into my final year of undergrad and he was the best option. But after 6 months of dating, the abrupt death of my grandmother, and a diagnosis of anxiety and depression, I quickly realized the relationship wasn’t going anywhere. But I was in denial. Yes my denial about our relationship was as big as the actual river, The Nile. Why end something that was going so well? We didn’t have any real problems and genuinely enjoyed each other’s company.
The funniest part about this whole thing is that he broke up with me. He was able to see what I was afraid to admit. That we weren’t it for each other. (And good thing, too!). I remember how shocked my friends were post break-up at how well I was handling it. I knew he wasn’t the one, probably from the beginning of the relationship. We never once talked about the future, getting married, etc. Looking back, I wish I wouldn’t have wasted so much time and energy into a relationship that was a closed door even before it started. (Not that I would have met JP any sooner). What I’m saying is, if you don’t see it going anywhere, end it. Don’t stay in the river of denial (I can’t help it with the puns today) like I did. You can use that energy for so much more! Like building lasting friendships with your girl squad, focusing on classes, or joining clubs (that’s another thing I wish I had done).
You Aren’t Impervious to Alcohol
I think that if I could tell past me anything it would be to not drink or party so much. I mean, I wouldn’t say that I was a party girl but I did love a good party. And there was that blur that was sophomore year when depression and self doubt had me looking for any excuse to drink. Without going into too much detail, getting wasted will make you do and say things that you will regret in the morning. More than that, throwing up in your best friend’s Vera Bradley bag will not be your best moment in life. (Whether or not the drinks at that party were drugged is still TBD but anyways)… Alcohol was probably the root of my problem in college or rather, my lack of self control. You aren’t going to regret not getting drunk. My point is, don’t let society turn you into something you’re not, or worse, something you think you should be.
Not Everyone You Meet at a Party is Your Friend
When you go to parties, you meet a lot of people. Drunk people, especially girls when you’re in the bathroom, can be some of the nicest people. But they aren’t all your friends. You should probably avoid telling them your entire life story and you should definitely avoid telling them things you haven’t or wouldn’t even tell your closest friends. I’m not saying you can’t trust the people you meet at parties, because you can make some really great friends that way. You just don’t need to be best friends with them in less than an hour. We all want to be popular and to have people like us but in my experience, opening up to everyone isn’t the way to go.
I’m not saying you should only stick with your group or that you should ignore everyone and be on your phone all night (no one likes that person anyways). What I’m saying is to choose who you open up to carefully. I mean, maybe the person you’re spilling your guts to won’t remember who you are or what you said in the morning, but I that’s not a chance I would take willingly (now, anyways). Also, you don’t have to add everyone you meet on Facebook. My advice: Don’t.
You May Have Picked the Wrong Major… Twice
I am one of those people who had no idea what they wanted to do when they graduated high school. Confession time: I still really don’t, but still. Anyways, I started out as a pre-psychology major. My math scores weren’t high enough to actually get me into the major. After one semester, I quickly realized that while I enjoyed my psychology classes, I was never going to be able to keep up with the course load of being a psychology major. I decided a better fit for me would be journalism but after a year and a half, I realized I wasn’t learning anything. You don’t need a degree to be a journalist and I had already been published in high school and college. Second semester of junior year and knowing full well it might delay graduating, I changed my major… again. I had the most amazing Shakespeare professor that semester who really showed me how much I loved literature and how good I was at it. I switched to an English degree and miraculously graduated on time.
You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do the minute you become a college freshman. The reason you take a bunch of random classes your first year of college is to broaden your horizons and open yourself to new interests and ideas. So don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t know what you want to major in or if you end up changing it once, twice, even three times! The most important thing is that you love what you’re doing while you’re in college.
College is Over Before You Know It
It may not seem like it now, but in the blink of an eye you will be walking across that stage and entering the adult world (for real this time). I would be lying to you if I told you that it didn’t all change after you graduate college. It really does (but don’t worry, that’s why you have me)! The reason this is listed as a lesson I learned the hard way is because there is so much more I wish I would have done in college. Sure, I made a lot of memories and some really great friends. But I didn’t join any clubs, didn’t work a summer internship, all of the rad things I see people doing now and wish I would have done. Remember that you’re paying for this experience (most likely) so get the most you can out of it! Literally squeeze it for all that it’s worth and cherish every moment. If you get nothing else out of this post please take that last line to heart.
Wow, this was kind of a fun yet emotional post for me to write. Are there things you know now that you would have done differently in college? I feel like we all have at least one moment we’d take back or do over. Let me know in the comments!
And be sure to check out 5 MORE Lessons I Learned in College (the Hard Way)!