The Five Most Important Skills I Learned First Year

  1. 1. Sage wisdom is overrated.

    Not the best way to start off an article, I know. But doing things over and over makes you better at them. Case in point: writing resumes and doing job interviews. I landed two of my dream campus jobs this year, and honestly? No amount of tips in the world helped me with those interviews as much as just doing interviews again and again. Yes, I may have embarrassed myself a bit once or twice (like when I told my college interviewer that I was “a hard worker” and instantly realized how many times she’d heard that), but look at me now! On campus worker! 

  2. 2. How to skim articles.

    This was especially important for the social sciences. Listen. My history professor taught this skill two weeks into my first year and it changed my life. This article on reading sums everything up really well, but honestly… read the abstract. If you don’t get what’s going on just focus on the abstract. If you can unpack it, the entire thing will start making sense. 

  3. 3. How to get things done.

    So much stuff about getting things done during college. Like, uh… *checks notes* Washing your dishes ASAP is 100% less gross. Also, if your dorm has a bunch of washing machines, enough that you won’t be an asshole for doing this, do multiple loads of laundry at once. Also, actually washing your face daily on a consistent schedule actually makes your skin better! Did you know this? I somehow never learned this.  

    Writing in a diary every day is actually a great way of keeping memories. I remember so much more of my first semester than I ever could have without my super-over-detailed, super-over-dramatic entries on friend drama, what I was reading for class, and everyone I liked. 

    Bullet journaling is actually the best and most important life skill, and I know everyone says this so I’m adding nothing new, but it's true. Just come up with your own format and work it out as you go along, it’s so much easier than trying to copy someone else’s. 

  4. 4. Expect from other people what they expect from you.

    If someone is treating you badly, step back and ask yourself: if you acted this way to them, would they give you the benefit of the doubt you’re giving them? If the answer is no… what’s worth preserving here? 

    But also, no one can predict what you want perfectly. It’s a waste of time to blame people for not picking up on your needs or emotions 100% of the time; they don’t expect that from you, so why expect that from either them or yourself? My best friends are at a solid 75%, and even when they don’t get it, I know they want to. That’s why they’re my true people. 

  5. 5. You keep learning.

    I wrote a post like this last year: it got published in my high school’s literary magazine about a year after I wrote it, and I just remember feeling so shocked that I basically wrote entirely about learning how much I needed to give other people. And yes, that was important at the time. 

    But learning to give to yourself is just as important. So here’s my big lesson: no, you should not go without what you need in life simply because it’s inconvenient for others

    It was really important for me to learn to ask for what I want, ask for help when I need it, and stop downplaying my emotions for the comfort of others. I’m not perfect. But if we’re close friends you probably generally know when I need support now! This is such an improvement. 


    The cliche of ‘to love other people you need to love yourself’ is frustrating, yeah, because no amount of self-hatred has ever made me love other people less. But it’s 100% messed with my ability to show it. The happier I become with who I am, the better I am at not taking things personally, and showing up for my friends when they need it not out of a sense of guilt, but out of a sense of love. So no, you don’t need to love yourself to love other people. But the more you love yourself, the easier loving other people becomes.