With my impending graduation right around the corner, I feel obligated to share some of the valuable life lessons I have learned over the past couple of years. Your 20s are the years where you truly start to find out who you really are and what you want out of life. I still remember my first day of college like it was yesterday. I had a blast, made (and dated) some mistakes along the way, but I learned more than I ever thought I could in a short period of four years. While I gained a vast amount of knowledge throughout college academically, I can truly say that the wisdom went above and beyond the classroom. Whether you are a freshman just beginning your journey, or a senior about to embark on a new chapter of life, I hope you find this list useful in some way.
1. If you have no idea what you want to do with your life as you start (or finish) college, that’s okay.
At the ripe age of 18, many of us don’t have the rest of our lives planned out. If you did, more power to you. When I was that age, I was more preoccupied than planning my outfits and what movie I was going to see that night rather than my future career goals. I picked Legal Studies as my major because I was convinced that I wanted to go to law school (I think I watched Legally Blonde one too many times). Turns out, this career path couldn’t be anymore wrong for me and it took interning at a law office to figure that out. I don’t even like to argue; I would make a terrible lawyer! It wasn’t until my senior year of college that I discovered my love for writing and saw the potential to make a career out of it. Maybe you’ve just recently graduated and still have no idea where you see yourself in 10 years. Don’t fret, as you grow older, you start to realize what your passions are.
2. You will fail. Probably more than once.
No one on this planet is perfect. Not a single person. Unless, of course, you’re Ryan Gosling, and in that case you are perfect in EVERY SINGLE WAY. It is inevitable that at some point in your life, and this includes your college career, you will fail at something. Whether it be a test you stayed up studying all night for, a class you just couldn’t seem to grasp the concept on, or a first date that you made a fool of yourself on. But guess what? Fall down seven times, stand up eight. You’ll always bounce back, usually even stronger after a trying time. The important thing is that you are learning from your failures.
3. Have fun, but stay focused.
This might come as a shocker to some (it sure did to me), but your grades in college actually DO matter. Those days of cramming for a final the night before are over. Okay, I may have done this a couple times. Alright, fine, I did this every time. BUT, I guarantee it will make your life easier if you work on creating healthy study habits. For some reason I’ve always felt that I worked better under pressure, however, this also meant that in the couple of days leading up to a test I would be completely stressed out. While the age old saying: “C’s get degrees” is true, you want to strive to do the best that you can in college, especially if you are planning on pursuing a graduate program after your bachelors degree. Some (if not all) of these programs are extremely competitive, and it is imperative that while you enjoy your college years, you continue to make good grades along the way!
4. Never be afraid to try new things.
Whether it be an extracurricular activity, a sport you’ve always wanted to try, or the chess club; trying new things is a vital part of the process of figuring out who we are. How do you know if you like something unless you try? Don’t let the fear of striking out hold you back from playing the game, even beginners had to start somewhere. We’ve all made a fool of ourselves before; life gets easier when you learn to laugh it off. Needless to say, athletics are not my strong suit. However, this doesn’t stop me from playing (or attempting to play) a friendly game of tennis when I see the opportunity arise. Ball is life.
5. Utilize all the free resources you are offered.
You’d be surprised at how many free resources colleges offer. At my school, these included a gym membership, healthcare, printing services, academic advisers, concerts, football games, and extracurricular activities just to name a few. You better believe I utilized all of them; it became increasingly hard to come up with excuses all the time of why I couldn’t go to the gym when I had free access to it, 7 days a week. I used the printing lab almost every opportunity I could, because times are tough and printer ink is mad expensive these days. UCF also put on a ton of super-awesome events throughout the year – welcome week was always my favorite because they brought in a huge headliner for a free concert for all the students!
6. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Four years might seem like a long time, but trust me when I say that they will come and go before you know it. Graduating is such a liberating, yet bittersweet feeling. I have grown accustomed to calling Orlando my home, and I will be extremely sad to see it go. However, just as I welcomed college with open arms, I will embark on the next chapter of my life with the same feelings of passion and excitement.