It’s been a little over a week since I’ve graduated and it’s still unreal. It feels like just yesterday I was fresh out of high school, taking my first steps on campus, unsure of what to expect.
Little did I know college would be full of some of the biggest lessons that life can teach you. I’ve laughed, cried, failed, gotten hurt, lost and made friends, learned about the world, and have come to understand so much within these last 4 years, and as a form of closure (you guys know how big I am on closure) I have written a post about 9 things college taught me:
1. How to think for myself
When I first began college, I didn’t know anything at all (but good luck trying to convince 18-year-old me otherwise). All I knew were the things my parents taught me, and all I believed in were the things I thought I was supposed to.
But college taught me how to think for myself. It gave me the tools to understand life and the world in ways that a young and sheltered me wouldn’t have otherwise. Not just in the classroom, but from the multitude of cultures and perspectives that surrounded me.
It also taught me to remain open-minded, that the world around us is constantly changing, and so are we, and that we are not required to limit ourselves to the things we’ve been taught growing up; we are allowed to be our own people.
2. Everything takes time
I am the most impatient person in the entire world, so this definitely took some getting used too. But if I learned anything at all, it’s that you cannot rush anything. So while I liked to call myself a professional BSer, a procrastinator, or someone who does “well under pressure,” I quickly learned that none of that was going to cut it in college.
I learned that you have to start earlier to get better results, and it’s the same with anything in life. You cannot retain information if you don’t study in advance, and you cannot get anywhere in life without the journey.
As someone who rushes into absolutely everything, this was a big wake up call for me, but from this, I learned that in order to get “A” results, I must take my time, put in the work, and trust the process.
3. Don’t take the easy way out
Piggy-backing off of my previous point, it can be so hard to not try and take the easiest way out, especially when you are a full time student and pressed for time, or just plain tired.
There were countless nights that I tried to skip a step or take a shortcut. And while this can work sometimes (and rarely), I learned that, and none of us are going to want to hear this, what always works is just doing the work.
Not doing the work on countless occasions taught me that it’s better to be safe than sorry, in school and in… you guessed it, life. It taught me to strive for excellence in every aspect of my life, that while it may be painful or stressful for the time being, the reward of great results is worth it.
4. Choose your friends wisely
As many of you may know by now, I did not end college with some of the same friends I began with. I’ve talked about this in several blog posts because well… I’ve had some pretty shitty friends in my life and it wasn’t until college that I began to realize my worth.
There was a point where I was surrounded by some really toxic people. I was arguing back and forth with people who refused to understand me, and was betrayed and hurt by friends on several occasions.
So one of the most important lessons I learned in college is that people will walk all over you if you let them. To remove yourself from situations where you’re giving and receiving little to nothing back, and to surround yourself with positive, supportive, and like-minded people who make you feel good.
As a disclaimer, I would like to say that I am by no means acting as if I am perfect, to the people who were toxic to me, I was most likely toxic to those people too, but that is what removing yourself is about. It’s about finding people who bring out the best in you instead of pulling you into a dark and vicious cycle of toxicity.
5. It’s okay to let go– and sometimes you have to
College is full of growing pains and upon learning yourself, what you believe in, and what you want out of life, you also begin to realize what you don’t want.
For me, this was unlearning patterns of feeling obligated and, tieing into my previous point, understanding my worth and the things that were deserving of my time. This meant not only walking away from friends, but also any thing or establishment that was no longer serving me a purpose.
Like I mentioned in my 10 Things I Learned in Retail post, it’s okay to let go of anything that you feel is holding you back, and even more important to know when it’s time to walk away and move on.
6. It’s okay to fail sometimes
This is by far one of the hardest college lessons I’ve had to face. As college students, sometimes we can be so hard on ourselves that we often beat ourselves down when we don’t meet expectations.
Well, news flash, failing is not the end of the world, in fact, I feel like in many ways it humbles us– reminds us that we’re human. I’m not saying to make a habit out of it, but it’s okay to fail a test, a class, or in aspects of life from time to time.
Sometimes you just have to take your L and move on, and like any course you take, you can always pick yourself back up and do it again.
7. To take myself seriously
Going into college is a scary thing. Suddenly you’ve found yourself in a classroom full of students from all walks of life who seem so much smarter and more experienced than you and you start to question whether or not you belong there in the first place. Taking myself seriously in college has been my #1 biggest struggle throughout the past 4 years.
So how did I get passed it? Well I didn’t until my final year and it took understanding that, while all the other students had a lot to offer, so did I. I had my own set of experiences and education, and finally deciding to put myself out there and speak up only confirmed that I was just as qualified to be there.
So basically, college taught me not only to not doubt myself, but to be confident and take myself seriously. The things that we have to say are not invalid, and in the words of a popular quote by an unknown author “no one is you, and that is your power.”
8. That I am in control
If you’re anything like me, and you grew up following the rules, doing what you are told, and not questioning anything, then the reality that you have complete and total control over your life probably came as a shock for you also.
The freedom we are given in college, even within the realm of classes, definitely taught me not only discipline, but that my fate lies completely in my hands (and God’s but you know what I mean). I decide if I’m going to show up for class, for work, for life, and it’s up to me to create the outcomes I want for myself.
With this also came the realization that while traditional values, and discouragement from the world may try to hold you back from going after the things you truly want in life, you are not required to follow anyone’s rules but your own, and you have the power to enable yourself to achieve the things you want– or to at least try.
9. That life happens
For what I consider the final and unexpected chapter of my college career, linking up with some of my old high school friends this past weekend taught me what a difference 4 years can make. While the innocence of 18 year old play was still very much alive, the presence of both age and adult beverages made the elephants in the room unavoidable– some of us were engaged, married, divorced, had went through one or multiple episodes of depression, and had just… grown up some.
From this I learned that life happens and that time changes things. That as we add on years, we add on experiences, and we become older and wiser. That the ups and downs of life never end, and that this is just the beginning.
College, it’s been real. See ya in Grad School.
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