May 10, 2016

a little reflection.

Hello there!

Wow. I have been gone for a while. I knew, when I left for college, that things that I loved would be put on the back-burner while I got everything figured out, but I did not realize that my blog would turn into a ghost town. I also did not think that I would miss it this much. For those who have continued to look at my blog, thank you. And for those who left for a little while, welcome back! I am happy to say that I am back and ready to start blogging again.

A lot of things changed while I was away at college, but the majority of these changes were personal adjustments I made, after realizing that I was not prepared for college life and all its challenges. For me, the struggle was more of a mental one than anything else, and I found myself very lost at times. So I thought that I would share a few lessons I learned during my first year of college. Some are more obvious than others, but I think they are all important lessons to remember:

1. Be open-minded || As hard as it is, try not to be judgmental. As a typically judgmental person, this was initially really hard to do. But what you have to understand, as someone new to college, is that university gives you a safe space to experiment and to be yourself. I always encountered people who judged others for who they were, who they wanted to be, or the choices they made. In truth, during the first year of college everyone makes choices that they don't think were the best in hindsight, but being open-minded about the choices you make and the choices others make can give anyone a lot of perspective on life's decisions. Be open to taking risks and, even if you decide not to take a risk, be open to the idea that someone else might want to.

2. Be honest || By this, I mean be honest with yourself. Check in with yourself often and ask "am I okay?" Ask yourself "am I in a good place in my life?" If you answer no to either question, do a little self-reflection and a little soul-searching, and figure out what went wrong or what you're missing. A lot of times, people miss the signs that are telling them to slow down or stop, and they stop listening to their body and themselves. When you stop being honest with yourself about who you are and who you want to be, you really miss out on the entire point of college; university is four years to selfishly follow your passions and discover yourself, but if you work to hard or pursue the wrong passions you waste so much time and energy on the wrongs things or the wrong people. Although the path to self-discovery is long and winding, and a lot of times we all make wrong turns and take a longer path to get to the end, if you are taking a path that is wrong for you without knowing it, you may end up in the wrong place. So take time to reflect and recognize, because it's good for you and because it will reward you in the end. 

3.  Be yourself || In the first year of college, everyone just wants to find their place and make friends. I know that the friends I have found in my first year of college will be in my life for a while, and this would not have happened if I had not been completely honest about the person I am. Trying to be someone else is not only really hard, but also really exhausting, and if you continue to pretend that you are someone that you aren't you will eventually find yourself surrounded by people that you don't want to be around and don't connect with. Though at times trying to fit in seemed like the only option, if you feel like you haven't found a good group of friends, or even one good friend, give it time. By the end of my first semester I still felt lost and out of place, but I didn't give up and stayed true to who I was, and I eventually found amazing friends. You don't just have to be honest with yourself, you have to be honest with others too. 

4. Put yourself out there || Being outgoing and social was a major stressor for me, especially at the beginning of the year. As I have grown older, I have become more and more introverted, and because of this putting myself out there to meet new people and socialize was not only a daunting task but also very exhausting. However, my advice is to just do it. No matter how much you hate being social and going out, making connections during the first few weeks of school is crucial, and makes an enormous impact on the rest of your college experience. When people invite you to go out or go to dinner, go. And make a habit of saying "yes" to doing things that you would normally not do, within reason of course. Practice spontaneity and be more adventurous. It will make for a more exciting year and will give you amazing memories with lifelong friends. 

5. Choose your friends wisely || This is a tough one, mainly because, in the beginning of the year, you just want to have friends. But recognize the red flags and notice when things seem out of place. You will meet a lot of people in college who seem great and are really cool, and a lot of times you will want to be friends with these people. But if you find that these people don't prove their worth as your friends, and don't stick by your side through tough moments, they are not your real friends. A real friend will be more of an addition to your life than a subtraction, so if it seems like you are putting a lot more effort into the relationship than they are, stop. It is likely that they are not worth it. Talk to them if you feel like something is wrong, but, in the end, if they just aren't receptive to your needs or don't care about you as much as you really care about them, it most likely is not worth your time. You will find so many amazing people in college who will truly care about you, so don't waste your time with people who really could not care less. College is a time to be selfish, but you still have to invest in others, and a person who is not willing to invest in you is not a friend you want to have. 

6. Stay close to your roots || In the chaos of school and work and life, we forget what is most important. This is a PSA to call your parents. Often. As dumb as this sounds, you will need your parents in college. If not to tell you how to get a stain out of a dress, then to just be a support system for you. Often we lost sight of ourselves in college, and family reminds us who we truly are and where we came from. If you don't usually talk to your family, reach out to friends back home or someone who has known you for a long time. Staying in contact with people who know you the best or people you have known for a long is so important to help you stay true to yourself. If you go MIA on your parents, at some point you will miss them, so let your friends and family know that you are alive and that you care about them. 

7. Don't jump into a relationship || Please don't do this. College is a time to discover who you are and who you want to be, and if you are so focused on someone else it is almost impossible to take time for yourself without considering the needs of another person. Being in a relationship is about learning about someone else, and how can you do that if you need to be learning about yourself? I am sure many people will say that jumping into a relationship is not a problem, and if it works for than that's fine. But, before you commit to a relationship, think about how a relationship will impact your own individual journey, and decide if that is a sacrifice you are willing to make. 

8. Take your classes seriously || People rarely talk about how difficult college actually is, but college is not a cake walk. I got a little blindsided by this notion, and felt myself unable to catch up with the mountain of work that was always in the process of being finished. Like a hamster on its wheel, college became a grind that was miserable and endless. This turmoil is completely preventable; the answer to the problem of how to keep up is to work hard. Do your best when you can, and put your work before your play. At the end of the day, personally, I came to college to work and learn, and that should be my main priority. Talk to your professors, work with your peers, and sit down with your assignments and really try to do your best. You are there to learn and grow, and hard work is a big part of this growth. 

9. Eat, sleep, repeat || Party, party, party. It's a regimen many college kids take on within the first year, and frankly it's dangerous. Not only does it ruin your health, but it also ruins your GPA, and you will end up too far behind to catch up in your schoolwork and your classes. Parties are fun, and you should absolutely go to a few, but make sure that you are also eating at least one vegetable a day, exercising, and getting sleep. Whenever I stopped sleeping, I immediately got sick, and that was my body's way of telling me to slow down. But if your body doesn't do that, recognize when you have spread yourself too think or when you are doing way too much, and take a break from the party scene to do some work and chill out. When you spend the whole weekend recovering from Friday and Saturday night ragers you lose valuable work time, so do everything in moderation and make time for your health and your work. 

10. Take care of yourself || This goes hand in hand with being honest with yourself. Though it is always important to be honest with others, sometimes we forget to be honest with ourselves. When you get caught up in school, work, and parties, often we forget to be honest about what we want. Not only is it important to make sure that we take care of ourselves, but also remember that, especially in your first year, you do not have to do everything. Not only that, but if you don't want to go to parties or take an internship, you do not have to. One of the biggest problems students face is taking on too much and spreading themselves way too thin. Take some time for yourself to relax and get everything in order. You do not have to know exactly what you want to do, but throughout college you will learn what you do not want to do. If you do not want to do it, you do not have to. Be true to yourself and put yourself first; college is a time to be really selfish and make decisions with your best interest in mind, and that is a good thing. I have learned the hard way that it is almost impossible to be successful if you do not take care of yourself.

My freshman year was not the easiest, but I definitely learned a lot and it was really rewarding. For those of you who are basking in the glow of high school graduation, you have a lot to look forward to. But don't lose sight of who you are, and take care of your self. I have learned that I need to make myself a priority, and recognize what is best for me. I recommend you do the same. 

Have you learned any important lessons recently?

xx BB