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Starting at a young age, adults would often ask us what we wanted to do when we grew up. It’s funny because this still seems to be a question most of us ask ourselves on a daily basis. Oftentimes, we forget the other factors that come into play and shape us into the people we want to be. Friends, family, and relationships can all potentially change our perspective on life. For anyone who knows me, I’ve always wanted it “figured out”. I had the basics down of course: study hard, get good grades, make choices that will benefit future me, and then become filthy rich and successful…duh. While most of it is still the case, with the exception of the final step (fingers crossed), college has definitely changed my state of mind of what I want to be vs. who I wanted to be. 

Ironically, in this messed up world we live in, society still puts pressure on young adults to have the jigsaw puzzle we call our life, pieced together by the time we become legal adults. At least that was the case for my parents. I still get the usual “C’mon, you’re 18. You should know what to do by now.” Looking back to my first time stepping onto campus as an actual student, there are specifically three things I wish my past self and my friends knew before college.


One of the greatest values I live by is to never lower my standards for anyone. Oftentimes, we find ourselves in situations where our principles are threatened. This goes for the people who are always willing to give so much and expect so little in return: there’s a fine line between being generous and compromising yourself to satisfy the needs of others. Remember, boundaries are only set from lessons you’ve learned in the past. Don’t throw your standards away to balance out someone else’s as an excuse to keep them in your life. Know your value and respect yourself enough to stand up to things you’re not okay with.

Going into college, friendships compared to high school were much different than what I expected. Ball State’s campus is much smaller than most think. When you run with multiple groups, everyone knows everyone. Sometimes it can be a good thing, but other times it’s easy to forget that the groups you run with shouldn’t define your relationship with other friends. As much as we want to keep our circle close and maybe our enemies closer, it’s important to understand that not everyone is going to want to be besties with the people you gravitate more towards. Sometimes keeping a healthy balance between friendships is hard. However, at the end of the day, those who make you a priority won’t care who you’re friends or not friends with. 

Lastly don’t invalidate your own feelings to validate someone else’s.

I think this one might be my favorite advice. College brings a variety of overwhelming emotions, which can be caused by school, relationships, friendships, or life in general. We’ve all had people who have told us we’re being over dramatic or that we’re overreacting. If I had a dollar for every time I heard “it’s not that big of a deal,” sis…I would not be struggling to fit every piece of clothing I own in a miniature space I call my college closet. If there is anything that I would want my past self or anyone to take away from this article, it’s that your feelings are your feelings. If something hurts or bothers you, don’t let people invalidate your emotions because you are “too sensitive.” It’s a term used by those who are trying to make excuses for hurting you and it’s not okay. Hold yourself accountable to your feelings, and quit apologizing for being human.


Just remember to be kind and aware of your actions and feelings. Before anything else, respect yourself. Life is a highway we are all still trying to navigate, and at the end of the day, who you want to be as a person speaks louder than anything else in the world.

Edna Zheng

Ball State '24

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