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What I’ve Learned from My Time in University

It’s been a long four years, but as my time at the University of Guelph is coming to a close, I can’t help but feel like it wasn’t enough. I’ve had my ups and downs, but I’m extremely proud to say that I’ll be finishing strong for my final year of university. Despite the current situation with COVID-19, I can confidently say that I am the happiest I have ever been over these past four years. I thought I’d take the time to reflect and share some of the things I’ve learned over my four years in university because I only wish that I’d learned some of these lessons sooner. 

I learned that people would take advantage of my kindness if I don’t stand up for myself. As a people-pleaser that isn’t a fan of conflict, I tried so hard to make the people around me happy, even if it was hurting me. Regardless of my peers, acquaintances, or even my friends, I had trouble saying no, and people took advantage of that. Now, I can tell myself that my thoughts and feelings are important too, my time is no less valuable than anyone else’s, and one of the most important things: it’s okay if people don’t like me. The thought of people not liking me used to drive me absolutely crazy, but if I need to bend myself over backwards to try to get on someone’s good side, maybe they’re not worth it.  

I learned that asking for help is okay. I was one of those students that did quite well in high school without really trying or asking for help, and that mentality bit me in the @ss when I came to university. My first year, in particular, was challenging – eventually, I got into the flow of things and was able to pick myself up a bit, but I still was extremely hesitant to ask for help. However, sometimes you need help, and that’s okay. Getting help can also save you a lot of time since you’re not stressing how to do things yourself. Asking for help doesn’t make you stupid.  

I learned to branch out and try new things, both in and out of my comfort zone. I had several new experiences over my time at university. While they weren’t always exactly the most positive experiences, I’m able to look back and say, “Hey, I did that!” I can honestly say that I feel more regret for the things I didn’t do than the things I did, but I know that this will help me prevent these opportunities from flying by in the future. 

Lastly, one of the most important things that I learned from my time here is that if I’m unhappy with my situation, I have to power to do something about it. For the first few years of university, I definitely wasn’t as happy as I could have been, and I chalked it all up to being something that wasn’t in my control. I just had to roll with the punches and tough through until it was all over. But this wasn’t the case at all – eventually, I took matters into my own hands, and I can confidently say that it was the best decision I made in the entirety of my university career. In a mixture of extreme luck and effort, I managed to dig myself out of that dark place that I felt trapped in for so long, and I am so glad I did because it allowed me to finish strong.   

All of my university experiences, good and bad, have helped shape me into the person I am today. I know I’m still young, and I will continue to grow and change as the years mould me. But when all is said and done, I am a different person than I was four years ago.  

And I couldn’t be happier about it. 

Leah is a fourth year Marine Biology student at the University of Guelph and a writer and editor in chief for Her Campus. In her free time she can be found engaging in activities such as reading and writing, drinking iced coffee, playing video games and staring longingly at the dogs she’s not allowed to pet on campus.
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