It’s official–I’m a college graduate! These past 4 years have consisted of more ups, downs, and lessons learned than I could have ever prepared myself for. But thankfully, I’ve become a true believer that the hard times pave the way to the good times, and you’ll come out stronger and wiser in the end. To officially wrap things up, I wanted to share my two cents on 10 life lessons I learned from my time as an undergrad.
1. Say no to bagged wine. No, seriously. You can thank me later.
2. It’s never too late to make a change. In your grades, in your habits, or in your priorities. Go beyond what’s expected of you or what might surprise people. I believe that unfortunately a good deal of the time people get stuck in bad habits because they’re afraid of the amount of attention (and snide remarks) they’ll receive for trying to make a genuine turnaround. Do it anyway, and do it for you, not anybody else. You won’t regret it.
3. That being said, finding the happy medium is key. During my college experience, I made some pretty drastic changes from focusing all on my social life and minimum school work, to all school work and minimum social life. During each drastic phase, I never felt totally happy, and I felt like I could never have it all. To be honest, I never mastered this elusive “happy medium” until this past semester, which was my last. Learn to make sacrifices on both ends (where appropriate), and surround yourself with like-minded people who you can walk to that 8 am with after staying out until 2 am the night before.
4. It’s okay not to be perfect. You should always push yourself to perform to the best of your ability, but only your best. When it comes between getting an A in a class and your mental well-being, rethink why getting that A is so important.
5. Do. Not. Settle. And don’t look to anyone else to define your self-worth. Looking at you, freshman boys. I think that says it all.
6. Learning how to work with a team is the most challenging and rewarding lesson you can learn. Coming from a pretty independent person notorious for saying, “Oh, just let me do it,” this is a pretty tough one. But here’s the thing: everyone has something unique to offer, and you can learn something from everyone, whether you like to admit it or not. Ready for your world to be rocked? There can be more than one right answer to a problem. 12 brains are better than one. Seek out all 12 right answers.
7. Holding grudges does a lot more damage to you than you would hope. In fact, it’s absolutely exhausting. It’s incredibly difficult to move on when someone’s done you wrong, but when you decide to forgive that person, you’re not only being the bigger person, you’re freeing yourself from that burden that may be weighing you down more than you realize. Wish them the best and move on.
8. Love on other people as much as you can. Everyone (and I mean everyone) has some kind of personal struggle they’re dealing with that they may not share or show signs of. The best way I think you can go about this is to think about your birthday. You’ve probably received loads of loving words via text messages, Facebook posts, or in-person good wishes, and I’m willing to bet they made your day turn around. If we’re only treating people like that 1 day out of 365, we need to do a better job.
9. Learn how to say “no.” This has been a major work in progress for me. Not being able to say “no” to side-projects has landed me in a heap of stress time and time again. Often, people actually respond to being told “no” a lot better than you would expect. It’s the courtesy of honest communication and not over-promising that people value above all. Hand in hand with that, challenge yourself to say “yes” to select situations that scare you a little bit, but you have a gut feeling will become a meaningful experience in the end.
10. Finally (pardon my French), but buy yourself a damn planner.
Undergrad, out. *Drops mic*