Finding Happiness in College

College can be a very stressful time for many people. Freshmen have to learn how be away from their parents, live in very close quarters with someone else, and motivate themselves to exercise, go to class, socialize and do homework without their parents telling them to do it. As a junior, I’ve been looking back at the things I’ve done for myself to be happy and stay happy. The decisions I’ve made didn’t always seem like the best thing to do at the time, but now I know that I had to do it for my emotional well-being.

I figured out who I wanted in my life

Some of the biggest decisions I made involved people. I learned how to look for traits I wanted in my friends and traits I didn’t want. I figured out how to cut the toxic people out. Whether it was a friend from high school or a new friend, I made the choice to leave the people who were hurting me more than helping, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Photo courtesy of Sierra Eno

There were people who constantly tore me down, and when I finally realized that it was okay to cut them out, I was much happier. Along the lines of friends, I went through my social media accounts. When I would scroll through my feed, half the posts were from people I wasn’t even friends with anymore, or people I didn’t care to be around, so, I deleted them. It’s much better to use social media when the people you follow are people you actually care about. Paying attention to who I surround myself with is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

I said "yes"

I said yes to new things, and I learned that I have more skills than I thought I did. The first thing I said yes to was in my first week of freshman year. I went to the involvement fair and I signed up for several clubs that I thought I might be interested in. I went to all of them (with a little pushing from my resident assistant), and from there I found two clubs I really liked and I stuck with them all through freshmen and sophomore year. Now, in my junior year, I’m still very active in one. I hold a position on the executive board of it, and I’ve even gone to six conferences and counting. I didn’t think I would like it, but here I am.

I said yes to new experiences and things I didn’t think I would ever like, and I learned more about myself by doing so.

Photo courtesy of Sierra Eno

I learned to tell people "no" 

As great as it is to say yes to things, it’s always okay to say no. I said no to things I have never liked. I ditched out on football games even if all my friends were going because I don’t like football. I said no to school events or to friends when I knew I had too much homework. I said no to my clubs if I knew I wouldn’t have time. To secure my emotional well-being, I had to say no to things sometimes because there are only so many hours in a day. I know what I don’t like, what I don’t have time for and what I’ll dread doing, and those are the things to which I’ll just say no.

Photo courtesy of Sierra Eno

I made time for myself 

No matter how much homework I have, if I don’t give myself at least an hour to work out, chill out or to just catch my breath, I’ll lose motivation and get frustrated. I started setting aside time just for myself, and it helps so much. When I spend my entire day doing homework, going to meetings and then ending it with going to a club, I get extremely flustered. I learned how to manage my time in a way that works for me, and I actually used it. When I set time aside for myself, I end up saving myself a lot of time in the end because it replenishes my motivation. When I’m happy and get some time to catch my breath, my schedule seems a lot easier.

In order for me to find happiness, I had to learn about me. I figured out who I wanted in my friend group, I said yes, I said no and I made time for myself. These four things may seem small, but they majorly impacted my emotional well-being. Along with these four things, there are other smaller things I did to find happiness, but I felt like those four were the most important. My path may not work for everyone, but it was the best for me.

Rep image courtesy of Pexels

Sierra is a junior at Carthage College majoring in Criminal Justice and minoring in Political Science. Sierra's hometown is Barneveld, Wisconsin. She loves dogs, pizza, cookie dough, and crime shows.

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