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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at JMU chapter.

Next month I turn 22 years old. Cue the back pain and grey hair that will be coming my way soon. To take my mind off aging I thought it would be a good time to reflect on everything I’ve learned this past year. Between the ongoing pandemic and starting my senior year, it’s been quite the adventure.

Besides being able to ‘legally’ drink, I’ve done so much more. Here’s what I’ve learned.

  1. Spend time with your friends. You never know when it can be your last night going out. No one expected this pandemic, but it happened.
  2. Take advantage of every opportunity. The college experience is one of a kind and can provide life-changing opportunities. This is the time to do it.
  3. Be curious about the world. There’s a whole wide world out there for you to discover. You don’t have to leave your home to learn about it.
  4. Ignore the jealousy you see in others. Someone will always have something to say. It’s better to learn that now so you don’t lose sleep over it in the future.
  5. Be scared, but don’t have it hold you back. I stopped avoiding things that made me scared and instead embraced the fact that I did the thing anyway.
  6. Think about your future without the opinions of others affecting you. What your mom or dad wants for you may be different than what you want. Think about both and make the decision based on what you want.
  7. Wear whatever the hell you want. I hate that I wasted so many years wearing what I thought I should wear. Now I wear clothes that make me confident and happy.
  8. Read anything that interests you. Books, articles, or anything else on your radar.
  9. Find a podcast to listen to weekly. It’s good to listen to something weekly as you walk around campus, drive to the grocery store, or while you study.
  10. Continue to look for opportunities to learn. Learning new things every day is the best way to grow.
  11. Leave the job that stresses you out, but make sure you have other options. 
  12. Worry about the future and let it motivate you. Worrying is natural and will happen regardless. The thing to remember is that it can either paralyze you or motivate you.
  13. Listen to your heart. Your brain might be using logic and having you questioning choices, but this is the time to make mistakes. It’s better to have an oops than a what-if.
  14. Meet new people. The pandemic made me realize that there are other ways to meet people besides in person. Social media has an abundance of opportunities.
  15. Apply to the job of your dreams. Apply even if you don’t think you have a chance, you never know. 
  16. Pick the classes you want to take. The best part about senior year is being able to take any electives and pick the best classes in my major. I’m not choosing what’s in theory “best for me”, but choosing what I am interested in.
  17. Try new things around you locally. Once you graduate there is a good chance you’ll move back home or to a different city. Take advantage of your time here and go everywhere.
  18. Find a relationship where you both help each other grow. I’ve had toxic relationships and friendships. I’ve learned what I need from others and have only continued relationships with people that are good for me. We help and encourage each other to grow. 
  19. Work on your mental health and heal your trauma. Therapy works wonders. Just go for it. We all have issues and there is no shame in improving yourself.
  20. Get a tattoo, piercing, dye your hair or anything that shows who you are. I’ve done all three and it’s made me feel powerful in who I am.
  21. Remember that it’s okay to have a bad year. Some years are better than others and after this pandemic, it’s very easy to say which ones haven’t been great. Not every year has to be the best. You’re not wasting time, you’re living life the way it’s supposed to be.

It’s mind-blowing that I am turning 22 years old. I still feel 17, but that seems so distant now. College has been the best experience of my life and I’ll graduate in May. This is the year I ‘go out to the real world.’ How exciting is this?!

And here’s an extra thing-

22. Go to the bars. They’re more fun than I thought they would be!

Kate is majoring in writing, rhetoric, and technical communication and minoring in entrepreneurship. You can usually find her at Starbucks and listening to true crime podcasts.