6 Things I Wish I Knew In College


1. Everyone’s As Full As Shit As You Are

If you’re pretentious, this should humble you. If you’re insecure, this should embolden you.

Either way, it’s true, and knowing that should help give you balance in classes and informal late night debates. Don’t let anyone, yourself included, sway you into believing too firmly in absolutes.

2. You Should Be Aware Of Substances

Being nineteen is a weird age. You’re brought into a world full of possibilities, but are barely old enough to embrace them. The freedom is intoxicating, as are, you know, the actual intoxicants.

But I wish I was more aware.

Don’t get me wrong; I didn’t do anything drastically wrong. But wary mindfulness isn’t really encouraged in college, let alone moderation. Drinks and drugs are seen as identities, actifies and signifiers, not substances to carefully weigh the pros and cons of.

Here’s a partial list of very basic things I wish someone had more properly explained to me.

  • That drinking a bunch of water before drinking would also help prevent hangovers.
  • That just because people are doing it doesn’t mean you’ll like it.
  • That marijuana comes in two main forms, Sativa and Indica, and that the first will rev you up.
  • That drinking on an empty stomach can dramatically affect how drunk you get.
  • That people respond differently to different things, so trust your instincts and body.
  • That drinking is exponential; “one or two” last shots can be the difference between a wild night and a big mistake.
  • That you can’t count on other College kids to correctly eyeball shots, and that mixed drinks can fluctuate wildly. “A drink and two beers” can be anywhere from three to seven drinks, and that range is wildly different.
  • That beer can fluctuate in alcohol content, and that three or four frat beers isn’t the same as four Dogfish 60 Minutes at your cousin’s barbecue.

But they didn’t. I wish they had. I learned a lot of small things the hard way, and while that tends to be the only way I really learn things, I wish I’d heard those things before.

I hadn’t.

3. People Aren’t Having As Much Sex As You Think.

Calm down.

4. You Can Do More

A lot of your vision is narrowed at nineteen, and your ambitions are tied more firmly to the immediate.

But you can do more.

That’s not to say you’re not doing a lot. You are; even nothing is a lot, because at nineteen, things will just happen. You’re evolving and growing and learning, and that’s all amazing.

But, if you somehow have the time, you can do more too. Aim yourself in the direction of larger goals and explore wider ranges of topics. Work hard even when you don’t have to. Clean your room and make your bed. Do all the small stupid things you don’t have to, because it will give you an edge.

More importantly? It will give you a thirst to keep those edges sharp. Look beyond your college campus; it can be hard, but the more you taste life outside that bubble, the easier the transition will be.

5. The Real World Is Harder

If I’d known that the real world was harder than, say, sleeping through 10:30 classes, I might have done things differently.

Not really.

But at least I’d have appreciated it even more than I already did. And what’s wrong with extra appreciation?

6. You Can Choose Your Normal Here

Normal is often established relative to your environment, and, in college, you can choose your own adventure.

That’s obvious, of course, but many people feel bound to pursue what they see as standard. It took me way too long to figure out I didn’t like Frat parties, and way longer to even act upon that knowledge.

So, if you’re reading this, take a moment to empower your ability to choose your own normal. Are you academically inclined? Do you like to cook instead of the dining hall? Are you an appreciative slacker, a hustling student, someone finding their place or pursuing their employment?

Surround yourself with people who make those normals feel better, and a few who offer their own variations- your normal should, of course, be challenged.

But above all, cut out your corner of self. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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