Well, it’s that time again. Time for you to hear from me, the twenty-one-year-old with little to no life experience. What wisdom could I impart upon all of you out in the blogosphere today?
While I really haven’t done too much with my life, I am just getting off one of the most fun/challenging/exciting/exhausting/experiences of my life: my freshman year of college. College life brings a lot of ups and downs, if you do it right, you’re supposed to learn some stuff. I still may not be able to explain to you the complicated interworking’s of supply and demand in a monopolistically competitive market, nor can I write anything like Shakespeare (though if you’re still reading at this point maybe I’m not doing so bad), but despite this, I have been able to learn a few things from this past year. Let me share some with you, maybe they can be helpful.
Embrace the Suck
Yeah mom, I know I’m really bad at this one but, it’s still a good lesson that I’ve learned and am working on applying. The reality is that wherever we are in life, whether that’s in school, work, life at home, or any of the myriad of possible life paths we can be on, life is going to suck at times. This isn’t a surprise to any of us, but sometimes we pretend that it’s not the truth. There is always work that needs to be done when we don’t want to do it, people we have to talk to that we don’t want to, and fights that need to be fought even when we would rather just stick to ourselves.
For me in the past year those experiences came mostly through homework, especially writing assignments (at least I’m getting paid for writing this one) as well as social gatherings. A lesson I wish I’d learned earlier and that I’ll be doing my best to apply is to just embrace the pain and make the most of the situation. So many of us spend our time and a lot of energy avoiding work or hard situations, so much so that we almost expend more energy and ultimately put ourselves in a worse position than if we had just done the hard thing. We value leisure, which is fine, but maybe we forget that hard work is as much a part of life, if not more, than leisure and relaxation.
Put Yourself Out There
Again, here’s another one I’m not terribly good at but am working on. People are one of the best parts of life, as well as one of the absolute worst. That being said, the pros of being friendly and knowing people around you far outweigh the cons. The issue is no one is going to make friends for you. This point is especially pertinent in college life, as many of us are living away from home with limited connections to where we are. Life gets really lonely if you can’t get out and be friendly.
I’m by no means a social butterfly, more like a social brick falling out of the sky but, life has been much improved as I’ve made friends in my community and put myself in what are initially hard situations for myself, but situations that ultimately benefit me. One of the biggest examples is my church congregation. Every Monday the whole congregation gets together for some sort of fun activity. For the first several months of college those activities were difficult for me to attend. My roommates often weren’t able to attend so I’d have to fly solo. For my fellow social bricks out there, and to maybe help the butterflies understand, this meant I had to show up to a group of 60-70 people all by myself, throw myself into the activities, and try to make friends. These included the ever so awkward first conversations which were made up of the same four or five questions:
“What’s your name?”
“Where are you from?”
“What year are you in school?”
“What’s your major?”
Repeat that conversation 15 times one night a week for several months and you have a storm fit enough to stress me out of my mind. These activities, and similar events, really sucked for a bit but, I kept going, I kept having the same stupid conversation, and now I have met and made some really great friends. People that make life a lot more fun and a little less difficult. Going back to the first point, as I embraced the suck of meeting new people, and put myself out there (wherever this mystically ambiguous “there” place is), things worked out well for me.
Time Is Limited, Use It Well
After returning home from my 2-year church service just before college, I was really excited to have some free time to myself, and while I did have more time to do the things I wanted, I also had a lot of new responsibilities. It turns out if you want to do college right you have to spend a ton of time outside of class studying and working on assignments. It requires a lot of personal responsibility and focus on using time wisely. All this time spent working on assignments left me with limited free time, and I found that the way I spent my free time was important.
Say I have two hours of free time, this leaves me with some choices, I could crash on my couch and scroll through Instagram, or among many other options I could call my friend and go to the gym. Both are acceptable uses of time, but one is certainly more valuable than the other. I find it important to think about the consequences of each choice. If I decide to crash on the couch and scroll through Instagram, I’ll be welcoming feelings of comparison and laziness. My self-esteem would probably be decreased, and I’d feel like I’d wasted time. Whereas going to the gym would likely raise my self-esteem, give me time with a friend, relieve stress, and help me reach long term goals of health and fitness.
In saying this I am in no way condemning lazy days and watching movies (I mean I watched 3 episodes of Stranger Things while eating half a loaf of banana bread last night), sometimes you need days like that. But there are so many great things to be done, adventures to go on, and people to meet that we can’t afford to always lock ourselves indoors with our screens. Use your free time to live life to the fullest. Of course, we don’t need to break the bank in our efforts to do this. I mean I have like 50 cents to my name, so I promise that it is possible to have fun on a budget.
There are probably more things I’ve learned this school year (hopefully I learned a thing or two in class as well), but these are a few that have genuinely helped in my life. I hope they can help you too.