As my freshman year of college comes to a close, I can’t help but sit back and reflect on all the growth and change I have experienced. For me, it wasn’t just going to college. I’m from a small town in Kentucky, nearly everyone in my town went to a state school. I was moving 6 hours away to a city with over 2 million people and I literally knew no one. Starting college is honestly terrifying no matter how close to home you are; you don’t have that same safety group of friends back in high school, classes work completely different, plus thinking about the overwhelming amount of debt you are signing on for is pretty dawning :’)
This life is a funny thing. Sometimes it feels like you have it all figured out and then something happens and it completely flips your world upside down. This year has brought me so many ups and downs, but I couldn’t be more grateful for the sense of peace this year has taught me. Here’s my most important takeaway’s from this year
No one is cool in the real world
When you are raised in a small town, everything is small. Everyone knows everyone and has opinions about everyone and what they are doing. When you get to college, that all changes. Are people still cool? Yes. Do we still have friend crushes? Yes. But it’s not like high school, and that’s something you need to realize very fast. In this busy digital age we are in it’s so easy to fall into the habit of comparing yourself to everyone around you. In the real world though, it doesn’t matter if you have the cutest Gucci bag. You get judged off character and not Instagram likes, and all of that clique mean girl bullshit from high school…that’s cancelled now
Sometimes you just need that mental breakdown
The first quarter of college is extremely trying and stressful. There’s so many dramatic changes going on during that period: first time living away from home, trying to be successful in what you want to do with your life, more responsibility, you get the point. I cannot stress enough the importance of letting yourself feel your emotions instead of bottling them up. College can be very lonely at times, and people aren’t always so open about their emotions. This can make being sad even harder, but I PROMISE you 90% of the kids around you are dealing with the same changes and emotions that you are. Don’t be scared to reach out. Have that mental breakdown. Then get yourself an iced coffee and keep going
Don’t determine your happiness by a number on an app
I will be the first to admit I’ve always struggled with bringing my self-worth down by comparing myself to girls on Instagram. Why can they travel more than me? Why do their parents give them money to do whatever but I have to work? Why are they living a better life than me? The list goes on. The truth though….that life that they live doesn’t exist off screen. We make our profiles to be the absolute best moments of our life, because our individualistic culture pushes us not to be honest about our struggles. But those people who look like they are living the best life on Instagram, in reality have problems just like us. The tricky thing about Instagram is that likes and followers are counting in numbers, and numbers never end. So even if you have 1000 amazing followers, you could still have 2000 or 3000 or so on and so forth. If you continue to let a number define your life, you start to not appreciate the special things in your life because they don’t look as pretty as what someone else is doing. Screw the likes, love what you want.
Stop doing things that don’t make you happy
This one is the biggest one for me. At the beginning of the year I told myself that all I wanted is to be happy, and stop doing the things that didn’t bring me joy. That’s honestly the best decision I’ve ever made. We get so stuck in this trap of doing things for other people, and while it is good to do things for other people we often but our own happiness aside for the sake of others. Sometimes, you have to put yourself first though. But when it comes down to it, if you are unhappy with your life the only person that can change that is you. Take that roadtrip, major in what you want, quit school if you want, travel more, worry less, ultimately choose joy over popularity. There is a world out there waiting for you, if you aren’t doing exactly what makes you happy then you aren’t living your life to the fullest. Money and jobs will come and go, but the only thing we can ever truly lose is time.