These past 4 years in college were honestly some of the most difficult years of my life. Moving 2 hours away from home may not be a lot to some people, but to me—especially as someone who suffers from multiple health problems—it was terrifying, and I almost didn’t make it. If it wasn’t for the love of my family, support of my friends, and my extremely social personality, I wouldn’t have flourished the way I did.
In the midst of everything that happened while on campus, I couldn’t see the growth. When I entered college, I was immature, naive, and lost in a sea of people, cultures, and attitudes that I didn’t understand. Hell, I didn’t understand myself. It took many humbling experiences to help me learn who I am as a person, and to see other people for their true colors. Once I swallowed these hard pills, I was able to focus on myself and personal goals, and from there, life began to run a lot smoother.
After graduating in December, I began doing some self-reflection. From there, I started realizing the valuable lessons that, while in the middle of the storm, I was overlooking.
Of course, college taught me a lot more than just 7 things, but these are the most monumental to me:
1.If you don’t know yourself, you don’t know anything.
By this, I mean I struggled with helping other people through their struggles. I tried giving advice, knowing good and well I didn’t know what and what I wouldn’t do. As a freshman, I thought I knew everything. I thought I had seen all there was to see. Little did I know, though, that the universe was about to throw a plethora of troubles my way that I had never seen or dealt with before. This taught me not only how to fend for myself, but to also trust I am stronger than I may believe.
2. Not everyone has your best interest at heart.
I discovered this the hard way. Some people were put into my life, and I loved them with every bit of me. However, they clearly didn’t feel the same. They betrayed me in such a manner that it still hurts to this day. I wanted so bad for our relationship to work, and in doing so, I continuously placed myself in the position to be betrayed, each time a little more painful than before. I didn’t want to believe that people who are supposed to be closest to you can operate this way or even live with the fact that they’ve scarred someone so severely, but it happens. Once I accepted that, I was ultimately able to move on with life and enjoy college the way that it is supposed to be enjoyed.
3. No matter how difficult, never let the struggles of daily life hinder you from reaching your dreams.
My sophomore year of college indeed turned my life inside out and upside down. People did things that made me question who I was and what I was worth. Their actions affected me to the point where I was failing every class, losing interest in my sorority, isolating myself from friends and family, and contemplating suicide. I felt so alone and like no one understood what I was experiencing. I was doing so well with managing my depression, but it came back with a vengeance. Being the loving and compassionate person that I am made dealing with these people difficult because I wanted to tell them how I felt, but I didn’t want to make anyone unhappy. So, I harbored my feelings. It wasn’t until the semester was over and I was able to get away and go home to recuperate, when I finally saw these people were not worth my energy anymore and if I didn’t get it together, my entire future was at stake. I’ve since forgiven everyone who has hurt me, but I will never give them that much power over my happiness again.
4. Always be open-minded.
I believe in God and believe that our plans can be different from His. This is why things sometimes don’t go the way we want them to. I never saw myself where I am now. I always thought I would be well on my way to medical school, studying to become a neonatologist. I wasn’t deviating from this path because I KNEW it was what I wanted…or so I thought. When I reluctantly took a health communications class, I ended up enjoying it and wanting to know more. From this one class, I realized I was on an entirely different path than the one that I was supposed to be on. I wanted something for myself that I thought was right for me, and when I think about it now, I don’t even know why I wanted it. My open-mindedness allowed me to not only expand my intellect, but also showed me that there are so many avenues to explore once you let your guard down.
5. Stay passionate.
College is a time where we are taught to focus on academics and being as involved as possible. But over time, that gets exhausting.Yes, the sole reason of going to college is to get an education and learning how to conduct yourself professionally. But we also need to be surrounded by the things that we appreciate the most. Society places so much emphasis on working that we often forget about our personal interests and what makes us happy. In the midst of studying and hopping from meeting to meeting, I learned to find something to be passionate about. I subsequently used it as an oasis when things got hectic. I’ve found refuge in indulging in my passions, like writing and reading, because they’re what make me happiest.
6. Never give up on yourself.
There were plenty of times when I wanted to just throw in the towel. There were plenty of times when the going got tough, and I wanted to end it all. But instead of ending it, I decided to seek help from professionals, family and friends. I learned that it was okay to not be okay, and when we aren’t okay, it’s perfectly fine to lean on someone until you find your balance again. God proved to me that He doesn’t make mistakes. He prepared us for this life long before we got here, and He merely desires us to see for ourselves that we are capable.
7. Stay hopeful.
I said this in my very first post, but it’s the one key lesson that has undoubtedly kept me afloat. We are fed negativity every day, all day. We know there are plenty of things to be down about. BUT when we possess that one thing that makes us hopeful for the future, we are inspired. One ray of mild sunshine on a rainy day is enough to give us the optimism to believe the clouds will be gone tomorrow. Staying hopeful provides us the inspiration and the motivation to keep pushing, keep fighting, and keep striving until the thing that you’re most hopeful for comes true.
Graduating from college was one of the best moments that these 4 years have brought me. I haven’t felt this much joy in so long, and I am thankful I persevered long enough to do so. With me, I’ll constantly keep these 7 lessons as a testimony of the battles I fought. They’re a reminder that I’m not the same person I was when I first began. In completing my journey, despite all of the adversity, I hope to inspire someone else to keep going. I know it gets tough and sometimes the path is obscure, but trusting in God and the strength that He gave you will prove to always carry you through.
Hugs and kisses,