For the past for years I’ve answered the same question countless times.
“So, you’re from Florida, how did you end up at Appalachian State?”
Four years ago, when I was a senior in high school, I knew I wanted to get out. I wanted to have the ‘going away to college’ experience. I wanted to try something new and live somewhere new. I wanted to grow up and become the person I wanted to be. So many people I knew from high school (not all though), went to the same college, hang out with the same people, went to the same parties– Personally, I just don’t think you really have a chance to grow as a person and mature if you don’t challenge yourself and put yourself in new situations that may even feel uncomfortable at first.
Everything I had hoped I’d get out of college, I got. I definitely have had a lot of lessons in the past four years and looking back I got everything I wanted for out of college. It didn’t happen as easily and smoothly as I had imagined (nothing does) but I got there and I’m better for it.
At the end of each semester the seniors in my sorority stand in front of chapter and read a letter to the younger girls. I really liked mine. It was more of a list of things I wish I had known four years ago and lessons learned. Maybe I have regrets. I’m not sure, I’ve always believed you shouldn’t regret anything. But lately I think people who have regrets are good. They’re the people who look back on their life and thought about how they could’ve done better, how if they’re in a similar situation in the future they’ll do it right. As long as you don’t dwell on regrets and use them to give you direction in the future and be a better version of yourself I think they’re healthy and a good thing.
Anyways as cheesy as it is here is my list of things I wish I had known four years ago.
1. Be yourself.
You don’t have to be the same as the girl sitting next to you. You can be from a different part of the state or country, have different styles of clothing and different tastes of music but I can promise you that if you are being true to yourself you will have good, genuine friends that will have your back and last a lifetime.
In college you can get lost in the idea of being perfect. You want to be involved in everything, do it all, and on top of it have everyone like you. Its impossible to have everyone like you and it’s also impossible for you to like everyone! If you try to there’s a good chance you’ll lose yourself in the process and you want people to like you for you.
I found that the best way for me to think about it is this: Instead of trying to be the “best” or “perfect”… just be the best version of yourself. Make sure you’re someone that in ten years you’ll look back and be proud of. You’ll make mistakes, you won’t do it all right- but if you’re doing your best and your heart is in the right place then you’ll end up proud of yourself.
2. Be a good friend.
Learn how to be a good friend, forgive your friends when they make mistakes and listen to them.
We join a sorority thinking that all of a sudden we’re going to have 100+ new best friends but that’s not the case and that’s okay.
This quote is very true: “As we grow up we realize its less important to have a lot of friends and more important to have real ones.”
“If you can your friends on one hand you’re in good shape.”
3. Listen to your heart, gut and instinct.
When I got to college I had a whole fantasy of what I thought it would be like. And that’s exactly what it was, a fantasy. I had a list of what I thought wanted: the “best” sorority, a cute, southern boyfriend. Very superficial things. While they looked good on paper, life is not a piece of paper. Life is not a checklist. Living your life like it’s a checklist isn’t a good way to live. Even when you get whatever is on the list you’ll usually end up disappointed anyways.
I got to college and stopped listening to my gut. I really don’t remember the last time I actually listened to my gut other than when I was 17 and made the decision to come to App.
There were times when I talked myself into things I knew my heart wasn’t into. There were times when I literally heard my gut tell me “NO,” and I didn’t listen. When you ignore your instinct that’s what sets you back in the end. By the time you figure it out you might have lost what your heart truly wanted.
4. Do something scary.
When I was 15 I started having this saying, “do one thing everyday that scares you.” I thought I came up with it but recently I read it somewhere and apparently Eleanor Roosevelt first said it. So either I heard it when I was 15 OR I’m Eleanor Roosevelt reincarnated. I think I’m her reincarnated – I’ve always felt a little like a First Lady for some reason.
Anyways, if you do something every day that scares you.. it won’t scare you anymore. Don’t do anything really stupid though like jump of a bridge but ya’ll know what I mean. It’ll make you a stronger, more confident person and it will build character.
Also, if the only reason you chose not to do something is because it scares you make yourself. We all have will power.. we just have to use it!