Even though I’ve only been in college for 6 months, it’s truly felt like a lifetime. I’ve experienced so much and learned a great deal in such a short period of time, and I really feel like I’ve begun to really understand myself and the woman I want to be. Being independent in a new state completely foreign to you can seem incredibly daunting at first, but with time and perseverance, you get what you make out of your experience. As I sit in the library amidst the chaos that is dead week, I’ve compiled a list of 13 things I’ve learned my first two quarters at University of Washington, with hopes that maybe some of you share experiences and lessons similar to mine.
1. There’s no such thing as “having your life together”
Balancing academics, clubs, and working out while trying to maintain a somewhat decent social life all while trying to fit in a couple hours to study in a day can be insanely tough, to say the least. Anyone who says they have their life together is secretly lying to you. Just simply do life, try your best, and see where it takes you.
2. You will never be able to justify a $5 cold-brewed iced latte, so stop trying
I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve found myself studying at coffee shops, ordering overpriced coffee I know I could make at home for a fraction of the price. I try telling myself that $5 coffee is okay, that it is my reward for leaving my room in decent clothing and coming out and studying instead of watching Netflix in bed all day. Let me tell you, no amount of studying will ever make up for the fact that I spent $5 on less than 8 ounces of coffee: it’s just a fact I have finally, after 6 months, accepted.
3. Learning is fun
Studying, reading, and writing papers on topics you actually care about is actually incredibly entertaining. Allowing yourself to expand your knowledge and see beyond what you know is enriching on so many levels and makes your college experience all the more fulfilling. Keep on learning and enjoy what you do because you are so insanely lucky to be given an opportunity find passion in doing what you love.
4. It’s okay to be stupid, you’re not an adult
This generation is trying so hard to grow up and be older than it is that it’s forgotten what it’s like to be a kid. Enjoy your innocence. Make mistakes. Continue to learn from your experiences. Stay out until 5AM and watch the sunrise. Explore the city on a whim. Be bold, be fearless, be spontaneous. Be a kid, because you only get a hand at your childhood once: make it count. You’re not going to be able to do it forever.
5. Keep some moments of your life private
We’ve all been there: we’re at the top of a viewpoint overlooking the city and what are we doing? Taking pictures and planning out posts for social media. Be in the moment. Put down the phone. Embrace the present. Enjoy some moments for yourself and keep them private, they’ll be more special that way.
6. Life is great outside of your comfort zone
Do things that scare, excite, and intrigue you. It’s good for your body, mind, and soul. It’ll help you better understand who you are as a person. You’ll be a lot happier knowing that you lived your life without “what-ifs.”
7. It’s okay to be vulnerable
The only true way to connect with someone on a deeper level is to allow yourself to be vulnerable with them. Whether it be a best friend or a significant other, let yourself open up to them. Do not be afraid. Be raw and uncensored in a way that is comfortable for you. Whoever you’re letting in will notice and respect you more for trusting them to accept you for who you are, flaws and all.
8. Don’t trust just anyone
Although it is okay to be vulnerable, do not be vulnerable to just anyone. Make sure you are comfortable with the person who you are about to open up to and understand that they would never abuse your trust, no matter what happens. Guard your heart in a healthy manner that is good enough for you. Sometimes people are just curious: make sure you are able to recognize the difference.
9. There’s nothing a hot shower, tub of ice cream, and good cry can’t fix
For as many highs you experience in college, you’ll experience that many lows. You’re going to have days where nothing seems to be going right. You’ll be stressed out about an exam you think you just failed, get your heart broken a couple times, and feel utterly and completely lost. It’s okay, it happens to the best of us. Sometimes all you gotta do is just cry it out. Cry until your heart is content; then take a shower, watch some Netflix, eat ice cream, and go to sleep. Tomorrow is a new day and a chance to start over. Write your story with a happy ending.
10. Live everyday in thanksgiving
College is not a right; it is a privilege. Understand how lucky you are to be here and receive an education of your choosing. You are so blessed. Be grateful for all your experiences, all the people you meet, all the information you learn, and all the living you get to do. Thank the woman that makes your sandwiches in the dining hall. Thank the custodians that clean up after you in the library. Thank the friends you’ve made that have dropped everything to be with you in your time of need. Because one day you’re going to wake up, and college is going to be nothing but a memory.
11. Even if something seems stupid, they’re usually what’s most fun
Coming to college has been one of the biggest reasons behind my recently developed carefree attitude. Allow yourself to be stupid, because chances are, those will probably be some of the best, most liberating times of your life that you will never, ever forget.
12. It’s okay to say no
Sometimes you have to say no in order to thrive. I know it may seem tough, and FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real thing, but doing the most does not equate to being the most successful. So whether it means dropping that fourth class or staying in one night and studying instead of partying with your friends, be proud of your decision to put yourself first. You can only be better than the person you were yesterday.
13. Time really does heal all wounds
Life has its way of throwing you curveballs and completely blindsiding you. Sometimes, you just gotta give it time and let it be, that’s all you really can do. Time will take care of the rest, and I promise, you’ll be okay.
So there it is, the 13 biggest lessons I’ve learned thus far in college, and it’s crazy to think that this is just the beginning.