5 Things College Has Taught Me About Myself (and Life)

It’s unbelievable to think that I am less than one month away from graduating from Siena. As cliché as it sounds, it seems like it wasn’t too long ago that I was a freshman. They always say that college is where you find yourself, and now at the end of my undergraduate journey, I can say that this is definitely true. I have absolutely learned some of the most important things about myself (and life) here at college than at other stages in my life, and here are some of the most useful ones:

1.  I am capable of succeeding

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I have always been that person who beats themselves up over everything, especially my academics. I always worry about failing tests or writing a really bad essay, even though my track record proves that I perform well on all of these things most of the time. This fear of getting bad grades and disappointing myself and others has always been one of my primary stressors. However, as an almost-college graduate, I now realize that all of the times I have stressed myself out over this fear has been unnecessary. Performing well on my assignments in college, where the standards and expectations for academic excellence are undoubtedly higher than in high school, I have proven to myself that my insights are good, and my skills are strong. Although it has been a major insecurity of mine, college has helped me realize that I can achieve everything I set out to do.

2.  School work isn’t everything

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Because I have always been afraid of getting bad grades on assignments, I have always made school work my top priority. In high school, I wasn’t a part of any clubs or other extracurricular activities because I felt that studying and getting good grades were more important than anything else. While I may have survived high school with this mindset, college is a completely different story. As I said before, college is all about finding yourself, and part of this journey is trying new things. For me, this meant joining clubs for the first time. It took me until sophomore year to find Her Campus Siena, but I’m so happy that I did. Although being a writer and editor for HCS gives me responsibilities in addition to my school work, I have enjoyed these additional responsibilities, as they give me something completely different to work on so that my days aren't just one-note.

3.  It’s okay to take breaks

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While homework is important and club tasks can be fun, I’ve learned that it is extremely important to take breaks and relax. I have always been the person that insists on doing homework non-stop until it is done, and then taking a break after the fact, comforted in the knowledge that my work is done.  Although this didn’t get me into too much trouble in high school, I discovered very quickly that this method is not compatible with the rigor of college classes. You might last for a little while but, eventually, your stress and exhaustion will reach a point where you can’t not take a break. In the times that this has happened to me, I have noticed that I end up taking breaks longer than I would like and ordinarily would because I am so burnt out. Taking a break, whether it’s for an hour or a day, is essential to recharging yourself mentally and physically. And if you’re going to get all of your work done anyway (because of course you are!), what’s the harm in taking some time off for yourself every now and again?

4.  Taking initiative is important

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Nothing in college (or life in general) is just handed to you. You have to actively go after everything you want. While there are amazing resources on campus to help you find a job/internship, navigate through the graduate school application process and get extra assistance in learning course material, you have to take the first step in obtaining help from these resources. And, even after you have gotten the help you need, you are still the one that has to put in the work in the aftermath to get what you want. No matter where you are or what you are doing, it is always good to show that you are willing to take charge of a situation.

5.  Everything will work out

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As human beings, we are often plagued with self-doubt at most of the stages in our lives. It can feel like you won’t succeed, you won’t find a job or that you won’t fulfill your goals and dreams. Personally, I’ve found myself in these moments many times. I’ve had many professors tell me that I will figure out my life and everything will work out. In the moment, this is not necessarily the most comforting thing in the world to hear, but it is absolutely true. Life has a funny way of working itself out, even if it is not in the way you thought it would. You will successfully graduate college. You will find a job. You will be okay.

Thanks for teaching me these and so many other valuable things Siena. It’s been a privilege spending my last four years here.

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