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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Illinois State chapter.

It’s that awkward time of your college career when you’re kind of in limbo. Your first apartment is wrecked from the number of parties you’ve thrown, but mostly from it just not working in the first place. You’re thinking about all the “lasts” you’ll experience next year, but it’s also scary because the end is so close. Do you start looking into grad school? Do you even know what you want to do? As I future trip on my life after college, here are some lessons I’ve learned from my junior year. 

Your Closest Friends Might Not Be 

Even people that you think you know extremely well — people that you tell everything to — just might not be the person you thought. And that’s okay. Life moves on, relationships move on, and time does, too. 

Strangers Might Become Your Person 

And just like that, somebody you never knew could be your new grocery store buddy. The person you come to when you’re feeling down, or the person you go out with on the weekends. Keep your mind and heart open. 

Try EVERYTHING. Even If You Think You Can’t Do it (You Can) 

This was the year I was fully away from gymnastics student-athlete responsibilities. This was the year I tried anything and everything I found interesting and could get my hands on. 

Some things will open up gates of opportunity, success and confidence. Others will leave you feeling hopeless and talentless. But it’s better to try everything than to not know at all, and even bad experiences always give a lesson that’s worth learning. 

I always wanted to learn French, so I took a class (it was a complete waste of time, I thought of dropping it, and I can’t recite a sentence in French today although I took an entire semester of it). I wanted to broadcast sports, so I tried and ended up getting an internship with ESPN for gymnastics (I took that as a win). However, when I broadcasted softball, I did such a terrible job it hinged my identity and my love for sports (not good). 

Whatever the outcome, there are lessons to be learned about yourself. There are friends to be made and memories to cherish. Try it. You might like it or hate it, and either is okay. 

Your Leasing Company Will Not Give You Any Exceptions 

Like trying everything and everything, expect it too when living in an apartment for the first time. You have no closet door? Awesome. Your dryer breaks three times? Great. Your faucet handle falls apart and you don’t have water for a day? Wonderful. Your apartment catches on fire and the smoke alarms don’t work? Somehow it’s still your fault and you have to pay. Wonderful! Not speaking from personal experience at all…

Stay On Top of Your Assignments 

This is so important. Do you think the due date is far away? Two weeks out? Get started at least thinking about it now. Read over the directions perhaps. Even having knowledge of what you’re going to have to do in the next week is a lifesaver so you’re not in the dark. If you have a lot of homework, it’s going to be hard to say no, but it’s definitely in your best interest to not go out. 

But…It’s Important to Have Balance 

Cut it loose. Go on that date with the boy you think is cute and go to a Pub Wednesday with your roommate. Make sure you’re getting a functional amount of sleep, and make sure you still get your workouts in during the morning, right before you sleep, or whenever you have time in between. Three meals and snacks, no exceptions! 

By far, this has been my most insightful year. I’ve felt like I’ve gotten the most out of college, inside and out. I hope that next year as my lasts begin, I can take these to heart and into the future.

Kaylee Sugimoto

Illinois State '24

Hi there, I’m Kaylee! I was born in California but raised in Portland, Oregon. I'm a retired Division 1 athlete, and now study journalism and psychology at ISU. If I'm not on campus, I'm probably on a mountain or somewhere without service in the desert. So don't text, I mean it.