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5 THINGS COLLEGE LIFE TAUGHT ME – OUTSIDE THE CLASS
1. You can reinvent yourself.
I'll be the first to admit that I hated high school with a passion. People always told me, “you'll miss it when you graduate and leave”. I didn't and I still don't because I was honestly miserable. College was my way to change the educational and social experience that I had in high school. I chose to attend a college where none of my friends were going and only a few people from my graduating class were attending. I was no longer forced to play the part of the hyper, eccentric, and annoying girl that I was forced to be in high school because that's what was expected of me.
Instead I became the introvert that I really wanted to be. I enjoyed the time to myself and unlike a lot of people I didn't party in college (I went to a total of less than 5 parties in 5 years). I started to care more about my appearance and how I acted to my situations. Plus I started to actually like sports and studied things that no one expected me to.
2. Your beliefs can change.
This is the one that shocked me the most. I come from a conservative Christian family. Both sets of my grandparents and a bunch of my aunts & uncles go to the same church. They are all Republican to the extreme in their beliefs. I was a church going girl, I even went to a nationwide conference when I was fifteen for my church denomination. When I got to college I thought that I would keep my way of thinking. Then I started meeting people and hearing there stories. Halfway through my Sophomore year I realized that I was no longer into faith, I just didn't believe anymore and I was definitely a democrat.
Now I'm not saying that going to college will make you agnostic like me or change your political views. For some of my friends college made them become even more dedicated to their religion which is awesome! I had one friend that wasn't extremely religious convert to Islam (not the extremist type we see in the news). I'm just saying that it's perfectly okay if your beliefs change and/or grow.
3. Eating alone isn't always a bad thing.
I had trouble with this one a lot my first couple years. I refused to go to the cafeteria alone, I just couldn't do it. I didn't want to be seen as the “loser eating alone”. My third year there I suddenly realized you know what I'm not a loser if I eat alone, plus I'll save a lot of money on not eating fast food or ramen.
The fact of the matter is eating alone can be relaxing because you can focus on other things like studying or even just the fun of people watching. When you get older suddenly the things that seemed so important the image you are portraying seem trivial and you wonder why you ever worried about them. My last year of college I basically ate every breakfast by myself and enjoyed the time alone.
4. If you get to know people you normally wouldn't think to be friends with you'll grow a lot more as a person.
The first group of friends I ever made were the exact opposite of me. These were my closest friends my first two years of college. I hung out with the kids who played video games whenever they weren't in class and listened to heavy metal music. I can't play a video game to save my life and heavy metal gives me headaches. However, spending so much time with people so different from myself was eye opening. These were people in high school I never would have associated with I would have actually been slightly afraid of them. However, I learned that just because we have different interest doesn't mean we don't have things in common.
5. It's okay to feel overwhelmed.
I feel like no one ever talked about this with me before my transition to college. College is a huge difference from high school. You often go in without your group of lifelong friends and you're suddenly being bombarded with school, extracurricular, and a social life. You're pushed out of your comfort zone and it can be overwhelming. It's okay to feel that way and it's okay to step back and just take a day for yourself (I suggest a Saturday or Sunday). For me I liked to go for walks sometimes alone (during the day because I'm a fairly tiny female and as safe as I felt on campus I still didn't take chances) or with a friend or two. Getting out and just taking the time to relax and not worry about what test was coming up or the event coming up for my RSO (Registered Student Organization) was a lot of help for my mental health in college.
On that note if you are overwhelmed and you aren't coping well it's okay to ask for help. My school had a free counseling center and I still wish that I had gathered the courage (and pushed back my anxiety) and went to get help. My anxiety my senior year was extremely bad, to the point that I considered suicide. I managed to make my way through it but I didn't have to suffer the way I did. I just wish someone had told me, it's okay to seek help, you need to worry about you.