Friday, February 28, 2014

If I Knew Then...

Looking back on my four years spent in college, I try not to have any regrets. I have had the pleasure of being friends with some of the best people I've ever met, I've gone after some great opportunities, and I've made amazing memories. It's been a hell of a ride. And while I'm glad things worked out the way they did, because it all enabled me to be the girl I am today, there are definitely some pieces of advice I would have given my pre-college self, if I knew then what I know now.

Don't Decide.
I had the opportunity to work with a group of college freshmen last semester as a peer instructor, and I loved it. But one of the things I noticed about them is that the kids whose majors were "undecided" always said it sheepishly, like there was something wrong with being undecided. Honestly, that couldn't be farther from the truth. If I could go back, I would absolutely go into college undecided and give myself more time to figure out my passion. At eighteen, I was stubbornly certain that I wanted to be an event planner. Since then, I've gone through at least four or five potential careers before finally finding my passion in writing. So be undecided! My academic life would have been a lot easier if I wasn't switching majors practically every other semester.

Remain Unattached
I spent almost three of my college years in a long-term relationship. While I absolutely loved it at the time, I now realize that you only get these four years once. I was passing up on opportunities to go out with friends in favor of staying in and watching Netflix with a guy. That's what your thirties are for, not college. These four years are sacred. I'm not saying you shouldn't date- you should, it's a natural part of college. But don't get so wrapped up in your significant other that you're picking date night over tailgates. Have those exclusively "college" experiences while you can.

Plan Ahead (but not too far ahead)
Things like study abroad (which you should definitely do) and internships take some pre-planning. So don't be like me, who realized too late that I wanted to go somewhere but couldn't because I was already so deep into major courses. Planning ahead in these scenarios will help you fit everything in, because these four years tend to fly by. But when planning, make sure you leave room for the unexpected (like a major change, a new career path, or life experiences that cause you to change direction). Don't create a five year plan so intense that a deviation from the course will crush you.

There are probably a million other pieces of advice I could give my younger self. Don't mix liquors. Don't go out on a Thursday when you have a 6 am wake-up call on a Friday (or at least don't make it a habit). Don't skip class, even when there's something more fun to do. Hint: there's always something more fun to do. Unfortunately, I can't go back and change those things. But who knows? If I hadn't done things in my own stubborn way, I probably wouldn't have found myself the way I did in these past four years. So I'm going to say stumbling along the path was worth it. In the wise words of some Pinterest quote: I love the person I've become, because I fought to become her.
Life Lessons: If it's after 2 AM, stop taking pictures and go home.

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