The impending doom of adulthood after graduation evokes a sense of nostalgia and, at times, regret for the adventures and mistakes of the past. The multitude of mistakes that we as college students have accumulated over the past four years are bound to make us both cringe and smile at just how far we think we’ve come. The simple fact of the matter is that every single one of us will make mistakes in college, but what separates us is what we will learn from them. In the spirit of personal growth, we at The Gavel present ten valuable life lessons that may be learned from your mistakes in college.
1. Don't Cling to the Past
Every college freshman has tried relentlessly to cling to his or her high school glory, friendships or relationships. What we fail to realize at the time, however, is that some friendships aren’t meant to last forever. Some relationships aren’t strong enough to endure long distance. Nobody at college cares if you were Prom Queen, but that’s okay--learning how to move on and start over in a new environment and with new people is one of the most valuable lessons you can take from college. It will help when you’re alone living in Iowa for that job you applied to as a joke.
2. Raise Your Standards
At some point, everyone sort of falls into a bad relationship, a toxic friend group or bad habits. The greatest lesson to learn from such incidences is that you are worth so much more than a surface friendship or a saga of 2 a.m. text messages. Realizing your worth and raising your standards will do wonders for your self-confidence and open you up to better, more worthwhile experiences.
3. Choose Wisely
Along with raising your standards, choose wisely about with whom you spend your time. Understand that you deserve respect and make friends that demand yours in return. The girls or boys on your floor freshman year may not necessarily be the men and women you want by your side during Senior Week. Know when to cut ties with the people who no longer benefit you and when to tell the people who matter just how important they really are.
4. Stand For Something
Whether you join a club or just post a lot of strangely irritating and opinionated posts on Facebook, stand for something. Join an a capella group and sing its praises whenever you can. Attend protests not because you think you should but because you actually care and have an educated and informed opinion on the matter. Don’t allow yourself to become that jaded person who sits on her couch and rolls her eyes at the thought of leaving the house after junior year.
5. Take Nothing For Granted
As cliché as it may seem, there isn't a single person that takes enough time to appreciate the little things in life or that never takes anything for granted. Every single person has complained about her looks, his life or her job prospects. It is so important to try to live in the moment and take some time out of every day or week to be with yourself. Appreciating who and what you have is essential to a happy and fulfilled life.
6. Everything Isn't Perfect
College is touted as the best four years of your life, but it may also be some of the hardest. It is important to accept that it is okay to feel sad, confused or lonely at times. Just because everyone seems obsessed with BC doesn’t mean you have to be. Just because your friends look like they’re having fun doesn’t mean they don’t feel alone. Learning how to feel your feelings and accept that sometimes things aren’t going to work out perfectly is crucial in both college and life.
7. Save Your Money
Whether you have a trust fund or live paycheck to paycheck, it is so important to learn how to budget and save money in college. Buying too many drinks and sparkly tank tops your freshman year is a necessary evil, but take your parents’ lecture to heart and open a savings account. Learning how to manage your money before you graduate will make you a much more sensible adult.
8. Pay Attention
The time you spend in college is precious, and it flies by faster than you would imagine. One minute you’re feeling awkward and out of place at the lobster dinner freshman year, and the next you’re verifying the spelling of your name for your diploma. Don’t allow yourself to be consumed by studying or passive aggressively communicating with your roommates and miss out on the moments that could alter the trajectory of your college career. Revel in every second of your life here, and don’t let anything hold you back from pursuing the life you want.
9. Get Uncomfortable
The only way to truly find out who you are and what you want out of life is to get out of your comfort zone. Join a club in which you would never dream of participating. Befriend the boy who encompasses everything you are not. Go on a spring break service trip. Change is both necessary and inevitable, and the best way to embrace it is to make it happen for yourself. Making yourself intentionally uncomfortable just may change your life forever.
Care about your grades. Care about your friends. Care that your stomach hurts really badly after drinking for nine straight days. Care enough about your body to know when something is wrong, and care enough about your friends to pick them up from the airport when they really need it. Care enough about your education and about your future to study for your exams. Just care enough about who you are as an intellectual to attend your classes. We spend so much time feigning nonchalance that we forget how to really feel. Choose to care, and watch your life improve.