My four years in college are quickly coming to a close, and while I don’t pretend to be full of wisdom, I’d like to think I learned and grew along the way.
For what it’s worth, I am a completely different person than when I first set foot on our campus. My perspective has been broadened, and I’ve been impacted by the people I’ve met and talked with. Not to mention the unprecedented events of the last year, I think I may have grown more as a person in this last year than all three years before (also, I swear that’s the last time you’ll ever see me use the word unprecedented).
In light of all the thinking, discussing and learning over the past four years, I am going to give those who are still in their college years some advice that you absolutely didn’t ask for, but may find useful if you somehow make it to the end of this column.
1.People come and go, and that’s OK
The relationships you create in college can be fleeting, or they may last a lifetime. People you meet that you think will be in your life forever may be strangers a year later. It’s such a common expectation I feel like people tell you when you go to college: you’ll meet your friends for life. And you probably will have a few friends that will be friends for life, but it’s unrealistic to expect every friendship to last. Eventually you will find the people who are meant to be in your life — the people who celebrate your wins and pick you up when you fall. The people who are meant to stay in your life will, so don’t be disappointed when some of them leave.
2. Find a mentor
“Mentorship is just magic,” one of my mentors, Zoe Wendler said to me. And she’s right. It’s a really unique relationship and it can really make a difference in your life, and in theirs. There are faculty on this campus who care about you and your success, so find them and ask them questions. One of the most important things to remember is that you may know a lot, but you’ll never know it all, so don’t pretend to. Ask for help when you need it and find the people who will help you reach your goals.
3. Don’t let partying become your personality
Listen, I’m not going to say I didn’t go to parties or the bar in college, because that would be a lie. I have some great memories at Shooters, and I’m not saying don’t enjoy yourself on the weekend sometimes. But don’t let it be your only hobby, and don’t let it interfere with your school. It’s just not worth it. You’re only in college for a few years, so make the most of it and get involved on campus. Go do something that you find fulfilling.
4. Listening matters
You will meet so many people from so many different backgrounds. You may disagree with them, but that might result in a really productive discussion if you are willing to listen. My other point of this is that there is so much value in being an intentional listener. Not just listening to respond, or to be the devil’s advocate, but to actually listen to understand what the other person is saying to you. Part of this is accepting that maybe you don’t know it all, and understanding that the person you’re talking to has a valuable perspective.
5. Your work doesn’t determine your worth
I’ve written about this before, but it’s so important to learn early on in college and in your career. A bad grade doesn’t determine your worth; your perceived level of current success doesn’t determine your future success; you are not your work. You are a whole ass person outside of whatever it is you do, so don’t let your work and yourself become one in your head. It will catch up to you and allowing your work and sense of self-worth become intertwined is detrimental to your mental health. It is incredibly important to find things you love to do and things you love about yourself outside of your work.
I’ll get off my soapbox now, but hopefully someone out there finds my perspective helpful. Maybe I’ll feel differently in another four years, but that’s part of the beauty of life: you’re never truly done learning.