I’ve been thinking a lot about my life over the past four years lately. College is ending in a matter of weeks, and I can’t help but remember the first official day on campus. I was a young size two with intense side bangs, carrying a fish tank up four flights of stairs to my freshman dorm. By the time I got to my room I was overwhelmed, wet, and in a slight state of shock.
Everyone told me that these were going to be the best four years of my life. If I had one dollar for every time I heard it at my graduation party alone, I probably wouldn’t have to pay for all my Dunkin coffees with quarters. At the time I brushed it off, thinking I was hearing the same cliché over and over again.
Turns out, they were all completely right.
I’m almost four whole years down with much shorter hair, and unfortunately no longer a size two. But I’ve still got the fish, so there’s a silver lining. The person I was that first day of freshman year is no longer the person I am, and that’s okay. I’ve become someone that I am proud of, and every peak and valley has brought me to this point. I’ve learned more than I could have possibly imagined over my time at college, but here are some of the main things:
The ‘school’ part can actually be fun
Don’t get me wrong — I have had classes over the years that have been nothing short of a snooze. But there were a lot of times that I enjoyed going to certain ones. The classes that pertain to your major help you narrow in on what you want to do with your future. You meet professors that open your eyes to information that you didn’t know existed, and challenge you to be the best student you can be. Knowledge is power my friends, as corny as it sounds. The stuff that you take from the classroom is what you apply to the real world when you leave. So allow yourself to learn as much as you can; you’ll be patting yourself on the back for going to class as much as you did later on.
Friends = family
Sure, you can still have your friends from home, but they’ll just have to share you. One of the best parts of college is that you don’t have to have a specific friend type anymore. Be open to all different kinds of people, because some of the best friendships stem from the most unlikely pairs.
I can honestly say I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them. They are the support that you need even when you don’t realize it. They are the ones who will laugh with you until you think you forgot how to breathe. They will pick you up off the floor when you cry so hard that you can’t stand. Most importantly, they will provide you with unconditional love no matter what. If you’re as lucky as me, you’ll meet friends that turn into family.
You will fall down, but you will get up
The older we get, the heavier the load seems to be. You’re going to experience a lot that you were unintentionally sheltered from before. Life has tested me a lot over these years that often seemed unfair and undeserving. There will be moments that will knock you right off your feet; people will betray you, even the ones who you never thought would.
Despite how it feels in the moment, just know it doesn’t last forever. The pain isn’t meant to permanently break you. But, do let it change you for the better. Learn from the times you fall down, and take note of the way people hurt you. Rise above it, and never forget how much you are worth. The bad people and situations that life brings to you will test your limits, but it will never be too much for you to handle. Say thanks to those who have wronged you, because at the end of the day they only taught you how to be better.
It’s like my roommate always says, ‘It’s not about how you fall, it’s how you get back up.’ And that you will.
Always love without fear
Coming into college, I was on my way down from a summer love high. It was all that I thought about for a while, but as more time went on I was able to come to terms with what it was — just a summer love. I moved on, but kept my guard up very high.
It wasn’t until junior year that I let someone in again.
When it first started out, I was pretty hesitant. He gave me attention that I had forgotten what it was like to have. He wasn’t my type at all, until he was. He became someone of importance to me, and a kind of best friend I’ve never had before.
Somewhere along the line we went wrong. I made mistakes, as did he. Our relationship was a roller coaster of sorts the whole way. We had our highest peaks and our coolest loops, but we also hit some pretty low ground. Despite it all, it’s still my favorite roller coaster.
It is so common to shy away from relationships in college. There is a lot going on all the time, and there can be a lot of pressure associated with it. It is easy to run away from feelings; the hard part is facing them. Sometimes things don’t work out, but you will never know until you try. Whatever you do, don’t ever be afraid to love. It’s not supposed to be easy, but I promise you if it is meant to be it will be worth it.
It is sad to think about leaving, but college has taught me enough to make me feel comfortable and confident with my departure. In four short years, I have achieved success. I have lost, and I have won. I have cried, laughed, and loved. But best of all I have so much to take from my experience here, both tangible and intangible, that I know will last a lifetime.
Those who are in the same boat as myself — don’t be sad that it is over. You should smile because it happened.