Reflecting on my college experience, I realized most of the valuable lessons from these past four years weren’t from a textbook. Here are 5 things I learned in college:
1. Exercise for your mind.
It was the times I started exercising for the effects it had on me mentally, rather than physically, that gave me the best results. The natural release of endorphins caused by just moving your body works wonders for stress, blowing off steam, and letting you be an all around healthier person. When you stop comparing yourself to others and stop trying to get the “perfect body” but rather compare yourself to, well, yourself is when exercise works the best. Feeling better mentally is so much more rewarding than dropping a pants size– which may be even end up being an added bonus.
2. Be open to meeting new people, always.
I can explicitly remember my senior year of high school, saying (and maybe bragging) that my friends were so great, and since we had so little time left together I simply wasn’t looking for any new friends. Now, as a senior in college, I am realizing how wrong I was four years ago. These past few months alone I’ve met some of my favorite people of my college experience. There is no such thing as “too many friends” and it’s so important to always be open to new people.
3. Never do anything you don’t want to do.
Just last weekend, I invited a boy over at 3am. My roommate warned me, “you better be ready to stay up really late. He isn’t coming over here just to talk…you need to know and expect that.” No, no, no, no, no. Even if I sent him a text literally saying, “come have sex” and decided right before we were about to that I changed my mind…that would be okay. Obviously, it’s always confusing to everyone involved if you are sending mixed signals by saying one thing and doing another, but at the end of the day: you are always allowed to change your mind. Just because one thing is expected, doesn’t mean you required to comply. This also applies to other feelings of obligation, such as feeling obligated to do going out on a Friday night just because you are in college and it’s what you are “supposed to do”.
4. That being said, sometimes there are certain things you should do.
Sometimes you really shouldn’t bail on that commitment you had with a friend who has been trying to get together with you. Sometimes you should suck it up and go to class on that day you really, really didn’t feel like it. Sometimes you have to be the bigger person and be the first to initiate conversation with that person that is making the situation so awkward. There are times you need to “buck up” and move forward—the important thing is knowing the difference.
5. Ask for help.
There were too many times during college I let my overactive mind get the best of me instead of simply asking for help. Sometimes, all it takes is one serious vent session to take a huge weight off your shoulders. People are so afraid of looking weak and vulnerable that too often we pretend to be okay when we are not. Ask for help from your professors, your friends, your parents, and your classmates. Being honest about being lost doesn’t show weakness, it shows strength.