Now that my virtual graduation has wrapped up, I wanted to take some time to reflect on the five biggest lessons I’ve learned as a college student. By sharing my personal experiences, I hope that you’ll be able to learn something out of it or find empathy knowing that someone else has gone through something similar.
Lesson #1: Be authentic and unapologetic
When I first entered college, I thought that it would be completely different than high school, that people would be more mature and drama wouldn’t exist. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. I’ve learned that everyone in college is still learning about themselves and everyone wants to be accepted for who they are. Peer pressure is still a thing and people will definitely gossip about your business. Through all of the drama and negativity, the best thing you can do is stay true to yourself. Don’t pretend to be someone that you’re not and don’t apologize for being different. If someone doesn’t vibe with you, it’s not the end of the world. Instead of spending all your energy trying to get people to like you, use it to fuel your goals and passions.
Lesson #2: Hurt people hurt people
Sometimes, you’ll find that the people you’re close to are putting you down, gaslighting you, invalidating your feelings, or minimizing your lived experiences to make themselves feel better. People who are hurt tend to cope by taking it out on other people. If this happens to you, you can either call that person in and have a meaningful discussion to solve your issues together, or you can determine that the relationship is abusive and you need to leave. You don’t owe anyone anything, but you owe it to yourself to take care of your needs and mental health. Sometimes, it takes losing someone to find yourself.
Lesson #3: Empowered people should empower people
Successful people always have an empowering support system behind them, we can’t do it alone. As a first-year student, I had many older friends, classmates, and mentors that I looked up to. They helped me transition to college life and navigate my career. Without those individuals, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Nowadays, I spend a lot of time having informational meetings with underclassmen to help them reach their own goals. With all that said, if you are an empowered person, you can empower someone else through words of affirmation and quality time.
Lesson #4: Do not compare yourself
Comparing is a game that ends with everyone getting hurt. In college, it can be very easy to compare yourself to others in terms of appearances, grades, opportunities, accolades, financial stability, and even social media following and engagement. But we must remember that beautiful people can exist without tearing each other down, intelligent people can exist without specializing in the same subjects, and everyone’s definition of beauty and success are different. Comparing yourself to others traps you in a toxic cycle of negativity, overthinking, and jealousy, which ultimately hurts you more than anyone. Instead of comparing ourselves, we ought to celebrate one another’s successes and show each other support. Gratitude and positivity will take you a lot further in life and contribute to your overall wellbeing.
Lesson #5: There’s no growth in the comfort zone and no comfort in the growth zone
This is my life motto. Before college, I hated feeling uncomfortable and I only did things if I was 100% sure I would succeed. There were so many missed opportunities that I didn’t take on due to fear of failure. But I’ve learned that failing is actually the key to success. Failure builds character, resiliency, and knowledge. Every time you fail, you ultimately become a better person or find a better solution to your problem. I now understand that being uncomfortable, facing your fears, trying something new, and involving risk in your life creates growth.
That’s all for this post! In order to learn these lessons, I’ve had to go through both pain and trauma, but with every downfall comes resiliency and growth. Whatever stage of life you may be in, I wish you the best as we continue navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.