10 Things College Has Taught Me
College and young adulthood aren’t easy. This period in my life has been the time where my attitude, ideas and morals, and even my body have changed the most compared to any other time in my life. Dealing with these changes hasn’t been easy, and if I can forewarn anyone else of the challenges they could possibly face, I’ll do it. Thus, here are ten things college has taught me.
1. Not everyone is your friend. Honestly, this is a lesson a lot of people don’t learn until college. You begin to realize that a lot of your friends from high school were only your friend because you saw them every single day, one-hundred-eighty days a year. I’ve lost touch with a lot of my friends from high school, but friends in college seem to come and go at an even faster rate. Plus, there’s so many categories of “friends”: there’s the “semester buddies” who only like you as long as you’re studying with them and giving them your notes, “lunch associates” whom only hit you up when they’re too scared to sit at the dining hall alone, “dorm friends” who you only know because you’ve seen them in the laundry room or at residence hall events, and then there’s your actual friends. Sometimes people will be friends with you just to be a part of your carpool, if you’re “lucky” enough to be that friend with the car. I can’t tell you how many people I thought were genuinely nice people, until I either 1) wasn’t in their class anymore, 2) I stopped answering their texts because they only ever contacted me about getting my quiz answers, or 3) I didn’t have anymore swipes into the dining hall. Each end of a “friendship” sort of broke my heart, because movies always advertise that you’ll find your lifelong friends in college – the ones who will be your bridesmaids at your wedding (and not tell a soul all the crazy stories from college). It took a while for me to find one of those friends in Astrid. Even today, I don’t have a huge group of ride or die girlfriends, but it gets easier and easier to differentiate between those who could potentially make the cut and those who are only in my life for a brief season.
2. But when you do find those friends, they’re ride or die. You will be able to find at least one amazing friend, and when you find him or her, you’ll know it. I knew Astrid was going to be my best friend for life the day she helped me stalk my crush my freshman year. I can tell her absolutely everything, and she’s probably never told a soul, nor has she ever judged me for anything. Those who are your true friends will embrace you no matter what (unless you’re just that crappy of a person and don’t treat your friends well). I could call Astrid up in the middle of the night and she probably wouldn’t even blink. The last time we hung out, we stayed talking in Tin Lizzy’s until almost two in the morning. Even back when we were roommates, we’d stay up talking until four in the morning, even if my final was at eight a.m. that day. Even though we’re both busy and don’t get to see each other as often anymore, she’s always there, and hanging out after not seeing each other for weeks (and sometimes months) never has that awkward “do I even know this person?” feeling. Keeping in touch can be hard, but the love you have for them will make it all worth it.
3. Relationships are hard. And not just romantic relationships, either. All relationships are difficult. Friendships are difficult to maintain because, just like a romantic relationship, time and effort must be put into them for them to cultivate. Most friendship “breakups” don’t occur because of one big event – it’s a culmination of personality conflicts, scheduling conflicts, and differences in opinions, passions, and activities. Friendships drift into the past, and sometimes there’s just no way to revive them.
Don’t get me wrong, though. Amorous relationships are hard as hell. I would be lying if I said everything in my current relationship was going perfectly; some parts have been pretty rocky as of late. We have disagreements. We have to talk about things that make us uncomfortable. My boyfriend hates seeing me cry (that makes him uncomfortable) and that has happened a lot lately. Issues from past relationships or from other peoples’ relationships infiltrate our relationship. We’re sometimes bored in our relationship, and it’s been a little difficult trying to get it back on track. We’re both putting in the effort. If we didn’t care so much about each other, we probably wouldn’t put in the effort to try to schedule bi-monthly date nights, or trying to find shows to watch together, or getting back to going to the gym with each other. Relationships require sacrifices to work, but often the rewards can be so worth the struggles.
4. Money doesn’t grow on trees. I personally stopped thinking this probably around the fourth or fifth grade. There were times in my childhood where one of my parents was laid off, and we often heard my mom say, “we can’t afford this right now,” and that was humbling enough. My parents did a freaking amazing job with providing for my sisters and me throughout those times, but we did learn how to be frugal. I may have taken frugality to an extreme, but that’s not what we’re addressing here. Just like it is a reality for a lot of students to work their way through college, it’s a reality for some students to have their parents or spouse or someone else to pay for everything. I work as well as get financial aid. My financial aid is used solely for school fees and rent. My work check is at most three-hundred-fifty dollars. Money goes quick. For two weeks’ worth of groceries, I spend from forty to ninety dollars, depending on how much food we need for meals throughout the week (I don’t have a school meal plan anymore). Even though my parents still pay for the service for my cell phone, I pay the lease payments of twenty-eight dollars per month. Rent and water and electricity are around seven-hundred-thirty dollars a month. Sure, there are things that I’m paying for, such as payments for my Sony a5100 camera, or beauty subscription service boxes and makeup for my YouTube channel and now my website, and the actual payments for my website (twenty dollars to register my domain every year and twenty six dollars per month), but even without paying for some of those extras, money would still be a little tight. I have to make sacrifices as far as not eating out all the time (which is probably a good thing), or choosing not to hang out with friends so I can save money. On the other hand, in order to cultivate my relationship, I might need to spend money on birthday, Valentine’s Day, and graduation gifts, or spend it for date nights, so I have to not purchase other things I would probably like to. Part of the reason my diet has improved so much is because I’d rather spend money on other things or put money in my savings account than to buy cookies, potato chips, and other snack items. Get used to feeling the struggle bus unless, again, you’re one of the ones who can have someone else pay for almost everything relating to college.
5. It’s okay to be alone. A lot of people fear loneliness, but it’s a part of life, and college is the time this really is revealed. It especially shows you that you can feel lonely even when you’re surrounded by other people. I came into college knowing pretty much no one – I wasn’t within the social circle of the people that came to my college from my high school, I’ve always had a really difficult time making friends and beings social, and my first roommate was…well, someone I didn’t want to associate with that much. I spent most of my time in my dorm room, ate at the dining hall alone, and walked around with my earphones in to drown out people who had friends to talk to. Even when I started to make some friends, our “friendships” weren’t meaningful and were somewhat superficial, as we didn’t talk about anything of importance. Even with my first “boyfriend,” I felt utterly alone. Eventually, though, I got used to it. Now I sometimes wish I could go back to the days I could hole myself up in my room after class and just listen to music. I started out as being “lonely” but I now have an air of independence about me that I wouldn’t have had if I’d come into college with a friend group or even with my twin sister. That “loneliness” has allowed me to know that I’ll be okay as people move in and out of my life, instead of thinking that breakups will be the be-all-end-all to my life. There’s beauty in being alone.
6. Everything happens for a reason. Whether it’s making a terrible grade or not being able to register for a class you really need, “there’s a reason for that season.” The perfect example of this was my Marketing 3100 class I took in fall semester. The professor I originally signed up for left the university, and the change wasn’t applied to the online system until thirty minutes before the first class. I was nervous, as were the rest of my classmates, because we had no idea what we would be getting into. The new professor was completely new to the university, so no one had any clue of what the class would be like. The professor ended up being freaking awesome – we didn’t just study PowerPoint slides (unless this one really annoying kid asked her to); we found real-life examples and applications for marketing concepts. She allowed us to have full creative domain over our semester projects rather than implementing a strict grading rubric. Heck, she even made me consider becoming a Marketing major for a second! I was seconds away from dropping the class because she wasn’t the professor I originally signed up for, but by the end of the semester, I was happy the other professor had left the school. Not every outcome will be positive, but knowing that negative consequences to certain actions can be valuable lessons, even if they are totally out of your control, will help ease the pain or uncertainty of different situations.
7. Don’t be afraid to try something different. In my “Fitness Journey” blog post, I explained how afraid I was to start going to the gym on campus. Other than when I was playing sports, I had never really worked out with people outside my family or gone to a proper gym or anything of the sort. It was a leap out of my comfort zone, but I definitely don’t regret it. That leap led me to loving fitness and health and to being the healthiest I’ve ever been in my life. Same thing with my YouTube channel. I was apprehensive about letting others know I existed on the Internet, but once I started to put myself out there on my other platforms, my channel began to grow more. I know 800 subscribers isn’t much, but even the fact that 800 people relate enough to me to hit the subscribe button makes me feel as though some of my hard work on my channel was worth it. I got tons of positive feedback from people I went to high school with, when those were the people I was most afraid of. Some of them have also started their own YouTube channels and blogs too, which is awesome! I know how difficult it can be to switch out of a regular routine and try something new, but the rewards can often be amazing and the perceived risks usually aren’t as drastic as our minds make them out to be.
8. Your life doesn’t have to be planned. If anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I was a kid, I wanted to be a doctor. When I got to middle school, I realized I hate body fluids but love debating, so I switched to wanting to be a lawyer. Once I took chemistry in high school, I wanted to be a Chemistry major so I could be a cosmetic chemist. I came into my freshman year in college as an English major. At the end of my second semester, I wanted to be Undeclared. The advisors wouldn’t allow me, so I arbitrarily converted to a Business Administration major. After my first week in my Financial Accounting I class, I made the conversion to an Accounting major, which is where I’ve been parked ever since. Will I still go to law school? I don’t know, but I’m not stressing about it. Life will take me where it will take me, even if my so-called “plans” oppose it.
9. Time management is key. It’s pretty easy to get burnt out and stressed out with so much going on – assignments, clubs and organizations, social events, tests, advising appointments, and hobbies. While I had writer’s block for some of the points in this post, I was studying for a test while working my job. I work until four, and then have two classes after that; I won’t get home until eight at night. Once I get home, I’ll have to study for my test, make dinner or a night snack, wash dishes, pick out my outfit for the next day…you get the point. There’s so much that has to be done in such a short amount of time, sometimes twenty-four hours a day doesn’t seem like enough. Never catch yourself in an “idle” mode. By this, I don’t mean that you can’t ever just sit and scroll on your phone or surf the web, but make the times that you do minimal and meaningful. If you’re just sitting around doing nothing, there’s probably a chance you could be doing something that could help your grades, yourself, or your sanity.
10. These are some of the best times of your life. Cherish them! College and young adulthood has its yin and its yang – there are bad times within the good, and there are good times within the bad. Not everything I wrote in this post was, “Yay! College is so fun and great and happy!” It isn’t. Some of my toughest challenges have come during college, but I’ve met the best of friends, a wonderful, supportive boyfriend, and I’ve made the best memories I have here. Those good memories and relationships by far outweigh the bad, and those are what I will look back on to say that college was truly amazing.
Write you little lovelies later,
XO Ky M.