Freshman year was not at all what I expected. I hadn’t really comprehended how different things would be, which made adjusting to the college lifestyle much harder than it needed to be. The furthest my preparation for school had gone was picking out which Urban Outfitters comforter I should order, what pictures I should print for my wall, and wondering how in the world I was going to fit all of my clothes in a dorm-sized closet.
It took me a few months to get a handle on life in college and actually settle in. I faced my fair share of sleepless nights in the library and eating Eggo waffles every meal, which forced me to make changes in order to take better care of myself. Learning more about yourself and finding ways to balance the physical, emotional and mental aspects of living on your own is truly a journey of personal growth.
Here are the 3 most important realizations I came to terms with throughout my freshman year:
- Self-discipline is a virtue
If you’re like me, you have a hard time turning off Netflix to finish that assignment you’ve put off all week. In high school I could procrastinate doing homework or studying until the morning of and still make an A, but my first college exam proved that wasn’t going to cut it anymore. I had to become stricter with myself when making time to do my work, studying for exams and even doing laundry. I learned making to-do lists with everything I needed to accomplish really helped because I could visually keep track of my tasks, and cross them off with satisfaction after completion. I also started to set goals for myself like taking a 30 minute break or getting a snack after finishing each assignment that encouraged me to get them done.
- Alone time is good for the soul
With all the commotion of classes, studying, meeting new people and exploring your college town, it is always good to take a step back and give your mind a break. Doing things alone in public is often embarrassing or lonely, which is why girls hate being alone. I used to feel embarrassed eating at a restaurant alone, but now I jump at any chance to decompress by myself. Living in dorms can be stuffy and frustrating at times, especially if you aren’t used to being around others 24/7. If you feel yourself growing irritated with others or overwhelmed by the craziness of it all, take a walk, read a book or go grab a coffee - alone. It will give you a chance to do some self-reflection and clears your head to allow for a more mindful outlook.
- Nobody cares if you don’t go to the party.
To me, this was definitely a personal struggle. I’m a pretty lowkey person, so rarely was I amused by the idea of bumping into sweaty strangers at an overcrowded frat party where someone would more than likely spill cheap beer in my hair. Don’t get me wrong though, after a long and stressful week I looked forward to those fun weekends and cherished the memories made while waiting in line for pizza at 2 am. It took me awhile to not feel so pressured to go out every night like the people I followed on Instagram and my friends at other schools were. I constantly felt like I wasn’t having as much fun as them since I wasn’t getting dressed up and posting pictures of ~college~ life. Some brief soul-searching and the decision to delete a few social media apps helped me realize that no one actually cared if I was or wasn’t going out, or what I was even doing on the weekends. I had created an illusion of what my weekends should be like, which mainly consisted of activities I didn’t even like to do - because that makes so much sense. After I remembered to focus on the things that actually made me happy, life got fun.
Again, these are just a few of the important lessons I learned during my freshman year of college. Everyone is different; finding what makes you happy and learning how to ditch your comfort zone might take you down a different path than the one your friends are on - and that’s okay. You’ll find your balance eventually.