With college graduation one month away—I know, I can’t believe it either—I am finding myself transforming into one of those classic “sentimental seniors.” You know, the ones who overbook themselves with a ton of social events to spend as much time as possible with their friends before they all move away; the emotional seniors who excessively journal and listen to throwback emo songs before bed.
While a good chocolate ice-cream cocktail from Narwhal’s, our local college bar, can help fix my impending emotions, I am honestly ready for the next phase of my existence and career path to begin. But, at the same time, I’m also discovering a newfound sense of college nostalgia from the past four—best, yet most challenging—years of my life.
As I near shaking SLU President Freddy P’s hand on stage along with my classmates, I wanted to share with you all some brutally honest advice that I’ve learned throughout my undergrad chapter of this book of life.
So, here are eight important life lessons to make the most of your college journey, from one dreamer to another:
1. Be a part of something that makes you happy.
Whether it be a niche organization, an athletic team or a social justice initiative—go for it and sign yourself up! Don’t spend your whole day living someone else’s dreams. And definitely don’t join something for kicks or that teensy resume boost. Join something that sets your soul on fire. For me, it was Her Campus. It was being a part of something much bigger than myself–it was about telling stories, educating myself and actively wanting to grow as a story-teller.
I began as a reader, then a writer during quarantine, then VP of Administration serving on the executive board my junior year. And finally, I became President and Co-Campus Correspondent. I fell even more head-over-heels in love with this college magazine that changed my life and helped me become the person I am today.
2. Listen to your inner child.
Do that thing you’re afraid of, maybe even something that you thought you had once let go of. Find that childhood dream of yours and meet her halfway across the so-called bridge of “Growing Up.” Tell her that you never forgot about her, even when the world told you to.
For me, that dream was writing. I had always loved it, but as I grew older and college exams and adult responsibilities got in the way, I had thought I didn’t have time to write for publications again, at least not as a student.
I would scribble my stories in secret, a published childhood prodigy and graduated gifted program kid off to focus on making my own money tree, and concentrate on that hot-girl degree. I had labeled myself off, but when the opportunity to write came around, I shockingly took the time to listen to my inner child. Ultimately, I made the decision to pursue writing again and make time for something that brought me great joy…and I’m so thankful that I did!
3. Start that conversation.
You meet new people all the time in college—and honestly, outside of college as well. So, stop waiting for the other person to talk to you first because most of the time, they’re just as nervous as you are!
Have a friend-crush on someone? Think that guy in the Starbucks line is cute AF? Talk to them…even if it’s just a quick compliment. People will never forget how you made them feel, so give it a try!
Another thing I’ve learned about starting conversations is that sometimes, the most important dialogues are some of the more difficult ones to begin. Throughout my HCSLU presidency, I have definitely been grateful for those moments of candid, respectful conversations about important issues that our world is facing. If you ever feel called to talk about something that tugs at your heartstrings, please do it. Who knows, you might even spark that fire in someone else and get to be a part of some positive change!
4. Sleep in, some days.
You can’t run on an empty battery—trust me, I’ve tried time and time again. Working 40 hours a week while being a full-time student involved in extracurricular activities has made me realize that hustle culture can be toxic at times. Your well-being matters! Take the time to take care of your mental, physical and emotional health.
I’ve still been able to be totally productive and succeed in what I’ve set out to do, but want to know a secret that I’ve learned? You can accomplish so much more once you start loving your body and listen to its needs more deeply. Give yourself the same care you give others—you deserve it, too.
5. Hug your people tightly.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Life is short but love is timeless. Make sure to be extra sometimes and let the people around you know how much you appreciate them, whether it be planning a chill roomie dinner, sending that check-in text to a friend or saying an extra, “Hey, I love you.”
6. Enjoy your youth.
I hate this saying but it’s so annoyingly true: “You’ll never be this young again!” Make those spontaneous memories–whether they be sleepaway adventures in a cottage in the countryside, staying out dancing in the city until 4 a.m. or even just taking a relaxing nature walk around Forest Park with your BFF.
Contrary to popular belief, there are no clear ways to show that you’re having fun. Social media can be tricky sometimes, but as long as you feel content with what you’re doing on the weekends, then you are doing great, sweetie!
7. Don’t give up.
“Redirection, not rejection.” I applied to hundreds of professional internships but it only took one “Yes” to lead to another “Yes” to lead to another “Yes” that changed my life. While we all may find ourselves feeling stuck sometimes, it’s important to remember that everything is temporary and things do get better over time as you’re out here chasing your dreams…I promise.
8. Who are you not to be special? Embrace your strangeness!
You are miraculous, whole and unique. The world needs you here. It can feel strange to talk about the inner things you are passionate about (calling all “Harry Potter” geeks or obsessive horse girls), but these quirks and uselessly interesting trivia facts make you who you are.
So, be yourself. Be ruthlessly, irrevocably, hilariously yourself.
For me, these past four years have been a revelation. Freshman year, I thought I lost myself. In hindsight, I was actually losing the parts of me that were created to appease others. All along, I was just growing and creating my own path, forging my own destiny.
Now as senior year draws to a grand finale, even amidst new confusions and silly happenings, I can finally say that I’m beginning to more deeply know and understand the more complex parts of who I am. I’m more vocal about what I want and what I love. I’ve grown tremendously and lost tremendously–but here I still stand.
Thank you to everyone who has made my college journey so awe-inspiring, especially to my Her Campus family. You know who you are.
Madam Prez checking out!
Love always with a final HCXO,