I am a recent college graduate from Arizona State University and while I enjoyed my four years at the university, it was no walk in the park. These past four years were some of my best memories and most definitely some of my worst. I had my first boyfriend but also my first heartbreak, I received my first failing grade (which hurt more than the heartbreak), and I witnessed my first run in with racism (which is still very real).
While I experienced some things that made me question my abilities and my value, I also experienced things that confirmed my purpose and passion. I made wonderful lasting friendships, helped other students find their voice, and I did things that an average college student does not typically do. I definitely did not have an ordinary college career.
I am a first generation college student, which is a term we use in the States meaning that I am the first in my family to go to a four-year institution. Being the first meant that I experienced things neither of my parents understood. I had to learn about things the hard way, while my parents always supported me there were things they just could not help with because they simply did not know. I learned these things for myself. If you have not encountered this yet just wait, because you will, and believe me there is no better way than to throw yourself into the deep end.
Here are the biggest lessons I learned in college:
Be happy with yourself. Now is the time where you will learn about yourself. Now is the time you will have to love yourself because some nights you have to stay up with your thoughts, figuring out how you got to where you are and where you are going and no one can tell you that. You need to have dates with yourself, go out running by yourself, and be with just you.
You have to learn how to forgive yourself. We all make mistakes – whether it’s failing an assignment or saying something you wish you hadn’t – but you need to forgive yourself to move forward; ignoring a situation does no good. You cannot change the past so running from it just shows how much you are not committed to yourself. You must learn how to deal with a situation head on and then accept it afterwards, and make sure to take the lesson you learned with you.
You are your most important person. You need to take care of your mental and physical health, your heart, deal with your sanity and make sure that you are working on your progress before you help someone else work on his or hers. Take some time for yourself and make, sure you are happy, if you are not happy ask yourself what brought you here and how can you change it.
It is okay if nothing is figured out. There is no right way to do anything, society tells us we have to do this and that, be here and go there, like this and dislike that. This is not the case, you can have your own opinions you can have your own voice. Most importantly, you can do whatever you want that will make you happy and you should not have to apologize for that because remember, we all get to the destination on different paths – so create your own.
You are supposed to learn about yourself in college. College is here to help you turn into an adult and be a better person, to mold you to think on your own and make your own decisions about your life. Enjoy the laughter, embrace the tears, and accept trials because that is a part of life, especially your twenties.