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The 4 Biggest Lessons from My Sophomore Year of College

It has finally come — the day we realize that we are halfway done with our college years. The moment we come to grips with the fact that half of our mistakes have already been made, and half of that whimsical and talked-up growth college is supposed to bring us has already been brought. We are finishing our sophomore year and encroaching upon the next half of our four-year chapter as upperclassmen. We realize that, in many ways, we did not turn out to be this hypothetical person our younger freshman selves had envisioned. Consequently, we also understand it’s okay that those who now stand next to us weren’t exactly who we originally thought.

In two years we have changed our majors, our friends and our priorities. We have dealt with the nightmares and the good times, and now we are bracing ourselves for what lies ahead before we’re kicked into the real world. With that being said, here is a token of my own knowledge that I personally have gathered from my first half of college mistakes and memories.

1. You become the friends you choose, so choose wisely.
I have found that we largely follow a similar life path of those who we hang around the most. That being said, we are the sole deciders in picking and choosing what type of people we want to devote our time to. Being around kind, genuine friends will help you become that better person you’re aiming to be. Likewise, spending all of your time with petty friends who care more about spray tans and date functions will leave you orange and alone. It is vital to surround yourself with ambitious, admirable people who have goals and a sense of integrity.

Though even during our second year of college it is easy to fall prey to wanting to be friends with those who seem “cool,” many times those are the same people who will throw you under the bus so quickly you’ll wind up rocking a neck brace Regina-George style before you can even utter “Nah, I think I’ll stay in tonight.” If you want to be a person who reaches their dreams, who finds the good in others and who spends their days smiling and laughing, then it only makes sense to not keep hanging around those who put you down.

2. Stop going on dates just because you’re lonely.
A guy asking you on a date in this day of age — crazy, right? With the prevalence of dating apps and the ability to Facebook message just about anybody you think is cute, it is very likely that guys will ask you on a date. There’s nothing wrong with getting to know people, and this is a good way to do that. But there comes a point when one must step back and reevaluate why they are meeting up with this person at Mochi when they still have homework to do.

From my experience, the ultimate purpose behind a date should be to get to know someone to see if maybe somewhere down the road you could ultimately see yourself spending more time with them. But if you do not have these intentions, or you know in your core that this person does not thrill you enough to picture you two together one day, rip the bandaid off while it’s still new, and stop seeing him. It’s normal to spend time alone in college, and it will be a common theme in your adult future to come. Live with it, and more importantly, learn to embrace it. Just because you’re spending your weekends alone does not mean you are lonely.

3. Find a mentor.
Many organizations on campus will assign members a mentor, and they are meant to serve as older guides through these crazy college years. Though you may be assigned one, anyone who inspires you can become a mentor. Find older students who are doing what you’d love to be doing in the future. Model yourself after the work ethics of those who have risen to opportunities that you’d like to have one day. Make connections, put yourself out there, and let yourself be humbled by those above you who have accomplished much more than you have yet.

One of the only ways to truly stay sane with classes, exams, involvement and grades coming at you around every corner is to find someone who has been there and done that. It is not a sign of weakness to seek out this kind of mentorship because all of the greatest minds of the world were inspired by someone before them.

4. There actually is a balance between school and socializing.
I’m still trying to figure it out myself, but contrary to popular belief, there is a way to enjoy the occasional girls’ night out where you don’t have to worry about anything besides finishing your drink and keeping up with studying enough to kick your exam’s butt. Either extreme, whether it’s going out every night and pretending you’re still a freshman during Summer B, or going to the other end of the spectrum where the library becomes your home, is not good for your mental health.

Everybody needs to have fun once in awhile, and there is no reason you should feel wrong doing so. School and grades are the priority, but no one graduates college saying their best memories took place at a cubicle on the library’s quiet floors. Everyone is different, depending on their major and ultimate career goals, but make sure to find time for the fun stuff too, because that’s the stuff you will dearly miss one day.

Two more years until we have to be real adults. Two more gameday seasons to wake up early and stay out late for. Two more years full of wonderful people we haven’t even met yet, dreams we will soon accomplish and mistakes maybe we finally won’t make. But most importantly, we still have two more years of college-town late-night delivery food.

Photo credit: hercampus.com

Hi, I'm Jenna and I'm currently attending the University of Florida as a Finance major with a specialization in Pre-Law, and minors in Entrepreneurship and Mass Communications. I grew up wanting to be a Carrie, but I know I'm going to end up as a Miranda. Interests include melted cheese, pink blazers, and fluffy puppy pictures on Pinterest.
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