Oh, What a Year!

It’s hard to believe that the school year is over. It feels like just yesterday I was moving into my apartment, going through recruitment, and adjusting as a second-year college student. This past school year was such an eventful year in my life. I joined my sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, started my first internship as a research assistant, took challenging courses, and met some of the best people. As the year is winding down, I find myself reflecting on my moments of growth, the challenges I experienced, but most importantly, how I surprised myself over and over again. Sophomore year is definitely an interesting year, because while you are immersed in school and becoming more accustomed to your surroundings, you are still young and learning so much. Personally, I had a lot of apprehension about the beginning of this year because there was a lot I wanted to accomplish and I had set my expectations really high. With these expectations in mind, I decided to make the most of every opportunity that came my way and learn to welcome new situations. I would say that making the conscious decision to live this way led to one of the best years of my life. I learned so much along the way, and I wanted to share some of those things with you all. Whether big or small, I think these small things might be helpful for anyone who is in college or entering college. Hopefully my own lessons resonate with you all in one way or another.

1.) Keep a planner or some kind of calendar to keep track of your classes and schedule

Though this may seem like a hassle or inconvenient, I can attest to the fact that having a planner kept me on my toes throughout the year. I was able to plan ahead for assignments, get togethers with friends, and deadlines. A planner is a tangible way of setting goals for yourself and holding yourself accountable to achieving them.

2.)  If you never ask, the answer will always be no

Apply for the job, ask about the internship, ask that person in your class to grab coffee, and most importantly put yourself out there. Opportunities don’t always fall into your lap, which is why it is so important to open doors for yourself and seek out what you want in life. Though there may be fear about failing, this shouldn’t deter you from going after what you really want. Most importantly, I’ve learned that the worst thing that could happen is someone says no, but nevertheless, you persist and try again.

3.) Tell people how much you appreciate and love them

It’s easy to forget to express gratitude to the people you are with everyday. Personally, I spent so much time with my friends and saw them so often that I got used to it, and sometimes I forgot how lucky I was to have people like them in my life. I learned to make it a point to check in on them and let them know how grateful I am for their presence in my life and the time we spend together.

4.) FOMO (Fear of missing out) is only as real as you allow it to be

I’m sure any student at San Diego State would stand by this statement, but there is always something to do. Whether it’s parties or events at school, there is always something going on and a lot of opportunities to go out. With this in mind, make sure to prioritize what is best for you and your priorities. DO NOT get caught up in feeling FOMO and constantly putting going out first.

5.) It’s okay to change your mind about what you thought you wanted

College is all about growth and learning from your experiences. If you find yourself changing your mind about what you wanted whether its career goals or relationships, that is totally OKAY! If you never take a step back to question what you really want and why, then sometimes it may feel like you’re working towards an intangible goal. Personally, I found myself re-thinking what I truly wanted a lot this year. I would go back and forth between what I wanted to as a career and sometimes I would come back to the same “I’m just not sure” feeling. I had to teach myself that life rarely plays out exactly how we plan for it, and growth comes from being able to readjust to change.

6.) Trust that everything happens for a reason

Sometimes things don’t work out and we are met with unexpected situations. Trust that everything that is happening is with good reason and at the end of the day you will end up where you need to be. Keeping this in mind brought me a lot of peace throughout the year because whenever I felt disappointed or anxious that something didn’t work out for me, I just kept in mind that maybe something better would find me instead.

7.) Be mindful of what you are putting into your body.

With so many options for food, it becomes really easy to start eating unhealthy. With busy schedules, it becomes really easy to eat things that aren’t nutritious and nurturing towards your body. Something that I like to do in order to help me stay on track with my healthy eating is planning out my meals and making grocery lists that align with them. Some things that I always had on my grocery list throughout the year were fresh fruits and vegetables, organic granola, whole wheat bread, and tofu. Having these grocery lists helped me  keep track of the calories that I am eating in a day. And, although I found myself staying on track with my food plan, something that I am still working towards is limiting my caffeine intake. I’m sure most of you know that I love my iced coffees more than anything, but sometimes having too much caffeine would leave me feeling drained and exhausted at the end of a long day. Due to this, I try to only have one coffee a day and drink it slowly.Of course, it's also important to maintain a balance. Having cheat days is great, and serves as a small reward for eating healthy and a break for your body!

8.) Be welcoming to new experiences

I would say out of everything that I learned this year, this would be the most important lesson. I’ve realized that the most interesting, exciting, and thought-provoking experiences are the ones that lie outside of your own comfort-zone. I decided to actively make the choice to welcome new experiences instead of fear them, and I found myself surprising myself over and over again. At the end of the day, I think new experiences serve as growth points, not as mistakes or failures; so really, you have nothing to lose.

9.) DO NOT wait till the last minute

I know this phrase sounds like a broken-record, but it could not be more true. Plan ahead, make to-do lists, go to a professor’s office hours, and give yourself enough time to get everything done. Something I’ve found helpful with not waiting till the last minute is finding a quiet place to study and get things done. For some people this is the library, but for me, I prefer to go to Starbucks or a coffee shop. I get easily distracted when I am with my friends studying or if I am inside my apartment, so I try to be alone when I am getting things done. This way, I am not crippled with work as deadlines get closer.

10.) Take time out of your day to do something that makes you happy

Whether it's going to the gym, going for a walk, watching an episode of Netflix, lighting a candle, or spending some time with friends- do something (big or small) everyday that makes you happy. Personally, working out is my way of taking time for myself. After a good workout I am able to refocus on everything I need to get done and I feel less stressed. I think taking time for yourself will only allow you to be the best version of yourself at the end of the day.  

This past year was a new beginning for me. I learned a lot about myself and made memories that I will always hold close to my heart. New beginnings nerve-wracking, but also exciting. They’re not always easy, but if you appreciate each moment for what it is and decide to make the most of everything, new beginnings serve as a stepping stone to even more wonderful opportunities. I hope that everyone finds their new beginning and embraces it; because the greatest reward is in blooming wherever life plants you.