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I often take a minute to look back on where I’ve come since graduating high school at the ripe age of 17. I was younger than a majority of the kids in my class, naturally, but was fortunate enough to possess an older soul and a higher level of maturity compared to most. Nevertheless, that still meant I moved into a freshman dorm and began a somewhat independent life six weeks after my 18th birthday. Let’s be honest, it was a lot. It also didn’t help that I’m the oldest sibling, and I was the first one who had to do this in my family. The emotional turmoil I endured that first semester could never be put into words.


However, as I continue to look back on where I have come since my high school graduation eager for a new start with new friends, opportunities, and most importantly, new concepts of the future, I realized that I knew absolutely nothing, and I still don’t to this day. For this article, I want to transport myself back to two years ago and have a conversation with not only myself, but the other high school seniors that have it all planned out. Don’t get me wrong, my intention here is not to destroy anyone’s hopes and dreams for what they want out of their life. I simply want to allow for a new perspective to arise as you take the massive step outside of the home and onto a college campus. So, listen up.

Overhead view of Students In Class
Photo by Mikael Kristenson from Unsplash

I want to start and tell you that no matter what comes of your college experience, expected or unexpected, you will be incredible. You’re on the right path to be where you need to be, even if you don’t see that initially. I’m a firm believer in that. However, in my time here, I have come to an understanding with what my personal expectations are for myself. I have also come to the harsh reality of others’ expectations of me. Neither of these fell into the category of what my personal desires in life truly were, and that’s when storms began to brew. I read something the other day about a man who became a lawyer, and a year into becoming a lawyer, he discovered how much he hated the career. His entire family told him how ridiculous it would be to quit being a lawyer after the eight years he invested into becoming one, so he continued being a lawyer for 50 years. So, the man continued being miserable for 50 years, when he could have only been miserable for one. Sorry, I’m rambling; I just love that story. My point is don’t continue to do something just because you have invested time in it or because those around you expect you to continue doing it. We are not guaranteed a single day, so living each day at maximum potential is the goal. Carpe diem, am I right? Be the person you want to be every day and work towards what you love so you can become that person you want to be. Do what you love, love what you do. 

Calm environment with desk set up for studying
Photo by Arnel Hasanovic from Unsplash

Continuing with the idea of others and their expectations of you, a big thing that I wish I knew at freshly 18 was how joyous each person you meet in college will be, good or bad. I know what you’re thinking: how can a person that you meet in college make you ‘joyous’ if they did nothing but make you miserable? Let me explain, because high school Gabby wouldn’t have known either. Anybody you meet in college will be your first look into what people in the real world are like. If you came from a small town like me, it’s a lot more effective than someone who lived in a highly populated part of the world and probably met a new person in their high school every day. However, I believe no matter where you are from you can still run into types of people that you have never experienced before. This can sometimes blossom into beautiful, lifelong friendships. Unfortunately, sometimes those people you meet simply put a foot in your life, rub dirt in it with the palm of their shoe, leave, and that’s all. Sometimes people appear in your life just to never be seen again, even if you liked them and wanted a friendship with them. It hurts, but it’s a simple reminder that people will come and go in your life, whether you can control it or not. Those people that brought you nothing but irritation and pain will just help you see both sides of what the outside world will bring you when you are on your own. It’s always better to be prepared. So yes, each person will bring you insight of some sort, and to me, that is joyous.

three silhouettes in orange sunset
Photo by Levi Guzman from Unsplash

Honestly, to my sweet high schoolers and college students seeking the same advice, just relax. The biggest thing that I have realized while in college was how much harm stressing has done to my soul, body and relationships with those around me. I have continuously worried about the ‘what-ifs’ of my major choice, my career choice and what the people around me thought of those choices I made. The storms that brewed from my worries of failing everyone, including myself, have been dark and dangerous to say the least. I’m forever grateful the sun has come out long enough for me to see these perceptions for what they really are and coming to an agreement with myself that none of it matters. My goal during my time on Earth is to make myself happy, and do what I want with my life, because my life is the only one I can determine the outcome of. I have acknowledged how little I know about what is to come in my life and the remainder of my college career, and by doing so it allows me to soak up all these moments where I know what I’m actually doing. All I ask of you all is relax and go confidently in the direction of your dreams and desires. I understand that’s a lot to ask, but I’m not asking you to do it for my benefit; it’s all for you, my friend. Give yourself grace, give others very little input on a life that isn’t theirs, and love yourself enough to trust what you have decided to spend your life doing. I promise, college will test all of these aspects of your life. Be ready, breathe and enjoy every second. Now get out there — the world awaits!

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Gabby Taylor

Virginia Tech '22

I am a junior at Virginia Tech pursuing a degree in Communication Science with minors in Psychology and Sociology. While writing is one of my greatest passions, I also enjoy spending time with my friends, my cat, and living in my daydreams :) enjoy my stories!
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