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5 Things My Freshman Year Taught Me

During high school, college seemed to be this foreboding and ominous place where we would take extremely hard classes and be by ourselves for the first time ever. While both of those things may be true to some extent, college — especially during the first year — acts as a tool to help us learn some of the most important lessons about ourselves. Below are a few things that many freshmen truly begin to realize as they embark on the journey of their first year away from home.

1. It is okay to fail.

By this I don’t mean it is okay to flunk every single class on a carefree whim because it’s freshman year and there is always time to raise the GPA over the next three. No, what I mean is that in high school when we tried hard we were usually rewarded with decent grades. There were even times when studying the night before wasn’t a big deal and resulted in a grade that was acceptable for us. It is not like high school was a walk in the park for me or for anyone, there were difficulties, but it seemed for the most part when decent effort was put in, the desired outcome was achieved. And while coming to college with this exact mindset wasn’t a mistake, it definitely lent itself to some growth in the area of my mind regarding failure. It’s a harsh pill to swallow when we receive bad grades, especially when we spent the three consecutive days leading up to the test spilt over notes and textbooks. But if there is anything freshman year has taught me, it is that you are not going to be good at everything no matter how hard you try. The frustration is very real, I’ll admit, but there is growth in failure and it is absolutely okay to not be amazing at everything that you do.

2. Making use of free time is hard.

Everyone told me I would be shocked with the amount of free time I would find myself having in college. Large breaks between classes or even whole days off was surprising to me and I quickly realized that I had more time than I knew what to do with. Eager first-semester freshman me dove into doing work during this free time to stay on top of things, however, soon the real procrastinating me surfaced and I found myself taking advantage of this time with naps and netflix. With so much time, it is easy to say that you’ll “do work later” except later soon becomes the night before it’s due ... and this cycle soon becomes a whole lot more stressful than it needs to be. Freshman year really helped me figure out how hard managing time is but how important the art of time-management can be. I still don’t have it quite figured out but I am definitely better than before freshman year.  

3. Find what you are truly passionate about.

If there is a single most important thing I realized freshman year, it is that taking classes you absolutely hate is the worst. Being 18 and feeling pressured to commit to a career path is daunting, and I came to college thinking I knew exactly what I wanted to be: a doctor. Ironically, after taking many science classes while playing on my phone, falling asleep or doodling, I realized that I have come out of freshman year knowing exactly what I do not want to be: a doctor. It is hard to figure out what to do for the rest of your life, but taking classes you know you aren’t going to enjoy will not help. Take classes that sound interesting to you and you will surely find yourself on the right path towards your future.

4. It is important to learn how to truly be comfortable with yourself.

It is definitely an extremely hard task to learn how to be completely comfortable in your own skin. I know I wasn’t when I came to college, I felt hyperaware of my every move and hyperaware of what everyone thought of me. However, looking back I realize I am so much more relaxed in my own skin than I ever have been before. Whether it was being surrounded by people who love you for what’s on the inside, or witnessing that the majority of people trudge to class in sweatpants and realizing they definitely do not care at all what your outfit that day is, freshman year definitely helped me to feel so comfortable with myself. And with that comes the realization of how freeing it is to feel so happy with who you are; it allows you to be fearlessly yourself all the time instead of spending a huge amount of time fretting about everybody judging you. It also helps to attract more of the people you truly want to hang out with all the time.

5. Call your family.

Leaving home is definitely a very tough thing to do, even if you love the school you are going to and especially when it is your first time being away from them for so long. However, once you get into the groove of things, it is easy to forget to update your family about your life. You end up feeling guilty when they send you texts about how you’re doing and you remember you haven't called in over a week. Your family thinks about you and your well being more than you realize and they love it when you call them without being prompted. I know I was already grateful for my family, but being away from them really made me realize how much they meant to me. So, creating a schedule for when to call or even setting reminders is a really helpful way to remember to shoot them a text about how you’re doing or ask them about how their lives are going.

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