During college, we each learn countless lessons, both in the classroom and out. We go through one of the most impactful growth phases of our lives during these years and further shape who we are as individuals. While my college experience isn’t exactly what I expected it to be, I’m grateful for what it’s become and all that it’s taught me.
There have been some standout lessons I’ve learned over the years. Many were ones I always thought I knew but never truly understood until my college years were coming to a close. I always agreed with the concept of these lessons, but I didn’t fully grasp what they meant until I went through certain experiences myself. I’ve come to call them my undeniable truths. Here’s a few that that I’ve come to live by, and I hope you can, too.
- Wherever you go, there you are
All I could think about in high school was moving to a new town. When college admissions were released, I fixated on the thought of living somewhere other than my hometown, a place where I could meet new people to share new experiences with. I daydreamed about what my future life would look like and how happy I would be when that time came.
Except I came to college and, without realizing it at the time, still suffered with the same internal issues I’d faced in past years. A new school and town didn’t change anything. But I tried to view each new semester as a fresh start, pledging myself to be dedicated to my goals and solve my problems. Whether it was a new semester, a new apartment or a new year, I always told myself that this time was different, and that this new “thing” would help me better achieve my goals.
I’ve learned that it was never about a new place or thing, or what lifestyle I dreamt up for myself that I would eventually live out — it’s about taking action in the present, not waiting for a better future. No matter what you’re carrying with you, it will still be there wherever you go if you don’t work to fix it from within. I realized that wherever you go, there you are. It’s crucial to work on yourself in the moment and not wait for something new that you can only imagine will fix your problems or make you happier. The time for that is now.
- Live for yourself
This truth has a double meaning for me. On one hand, I think about social media and our need to showcase our lifestyles in hopes of praise and validation from an uplifting comment section. On the other, I think about wanting to seem like a success to the world and, more importantly, to the people in our lives. There’s a desire to feel like we’re making others proud by getting the approval that we’re taking the right steps.
While I know it’s nearly impossible to get rid of that need for external validation, I’ve learned that the only one that matters is your own. A random Pinterest quote came across my feed one day, and I’ve branded it to my memory. It read, “If outside validation is your only source of nourishment, you will hunger for the rest of your life.” Validating yourself, whether that be in terms of your achievements, beauty or career, is key in making sure you are making the most out of your time here on Earth. The value of your life comes from you, not anyone else.
- Life is a constant up and down
This seesawing change is inevitable. In my recent years, there were interests of mine that I never thought would turn into a phase of the past, or people that I couldn’t fathom not having in my life that aren’t in it today. Your emotions, beliefs and interests consistently change throughout your life. It’s a constant learning journey with no set destination. I’ve come to not only understand this concept, but to accept it.
During my first few years of college, I was internally fighting this battle, as I was confused by my own changes of heart or the concern about what I was going to do with my life after school. I’ve learned that I will only continue to change as I get older, and that’s all right. It would be a shame to be the same person throughout life and not grow through my experiences.
There are times where we’re so low that we think we’ll never see the top again. But when we are high in the sky, it can be hard to remember just how low we once were. It may sound cliche, but the rough times allow us to recognize and value the good in our lives more than if that’s all we ever knew. The ups and downs that life throws at us can be scary, sure, but they’re inevitable. Remind yourself that in the long run, the bad often leads us to better places.
- Be your own best friend
No matter how many wonderful people you have in your life that you can lean on for support, all you have is you at the end of the day. You’re the only one that gets yourself out of bed, makes your decisions and feels your feelings. Similar to the truth about needing to live for yourself, you need to be your own source of validation — your own best friend. Whether it be hyping yourself up with that flashy outfit, pushing yourself to do better on an exam or consoling yourself after an honest mistake, there’s nothing like learning to be your own best friend. There’s beauty in falling in love with yourself to understand who you are every step of the way.
These were just a few out of the many lessons I have learned throughout college, aka my personal, undeniable truths. I try my best to live by them daily, as they are a reminder of what I’ve been through in my journey of growth. Take a second to think about your own truths. What are lessons you’ve learned that continue to reign true and valuable? Whatever they are, here’s to me, you and us!