Today’s post is the first in a mini series about what Ana, Molly, and I have learned in college, what we’ve loved about it, how we’ve grown, and what we wish we could say to the younger us! For those of you not yet in college or those of you who have moved past college, I would encourage you to read this series with the mindset of the next season ahead of you. The end of summer and the start of fall is always a big transition and an opportunity to finish the end of the calendar year well.
I remember visiting my did-not-know-it-yet future college with a friend during the fall of our senior year. Our biggest accomplishment all weekend was having people ask us for directions to the Campus Rec Center. That might not seem like a huge accomplishment but, we were so excited that we looked like we already belonged on campus that we were mistaken for current students!
Fast forward almost 3 years later, and as I am getting ready to start my final year of undergrad, I am just praying that no one will mistake me for a Freshman. Yes, I have the sad reality of looking like a first year student. However, the permanent scarring on my heels from countless blisters as a result of walking all over campus the past few years would beg to differ.
The start of a new school year for me often feels like the start of a new calendar year: I make new goals. I reflect on things that I have accomplished and things that I want to change. It is always a time filled with excitement and anticipation.
There are many things I have done and not done in my college time. I have regrets, but I am also proud of myself for the things that I have accomplished. To sum it all up, here are the things that I am glad that I did in college, and what I wish I had done differently.
5 Things I am Glad that I Did in College:
Stick so strongly to my schedule
I live and die by my Google Calendar. I have a calendar for everything and they all have specific colors with specific purposes. I love to finish assignments ahead of the deadlines (competitive much?) and for the past two years I have had a set schedule for completing homework, going to the gym, and spending time with friends. I am grateful for my love of scheduling because it has kept me organized and on top of my school work. (Ephesians 5:16)
Spend time alone
College, well life actually, is crazy. As an extrovert with serious FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), saying “no” to spending time with people is not easy. However, I quickly learned that making sure I blocked out time for me to just be still and quiet and not social was very important. This looked like going for a walk, watching an hour of Netflix alone, and even going to watch a hockey game or two by myself. It was a mental break and it was healthy. On top of this, I knew that I had to spend time alone in the Word every day, if my social time and personal time were to be fruitful in any way. (Matthew 4:4)
Learn how to say “yes” and “no”
I am people-pleaser. I hate to disappoint and say “no.” However, one of the first and most important lessons that I learned in college was to set boundaries for myself. Setting time apart for me to spend alone (yay margin!) and keeping a schedule were incredibly helpful in me learning this. Even Jesus knew when to take time alone and when to say no! (John 7)
Go to bed early
If it was past eleven on a school night and I was out of my bed, people were shocked. I am most definitely not a night owl! Plus, I just love my sleep. I made going to bed early a priority, at least on the nights where I had a lot to do the next day. It came down to recognizing what was best for my brain and my body and choosing to take care of my physical well being. I am also convinced that getting a good amount of sleep each night has kept me from getting sick as often as some of my peers. (1 Corinthians 6:19)
Slacking off in college is easy, especially when some professors do not take class attendance and you do not have the fear of your parents checking your grades. For me in particular, I knew that I wanted to make the most of the money I was spending, and so slacking off was never an option. While I sometimes resent the amount of work I have had, both academic and for my job, I am so grateful for what I have learned about being a hard worker and making the most of the time that I have. (Colossians 3:17)
5 Things I Wish I Did Differently in College:
Not stick so strongly to my schedule
As beneficial as my schedule is, I will be the first to admit that I use my schedule as a way to control. When my anxiety spirals and I feel out of control, I use my schedule to control my business. It can keep me from being spontaneous (see below), from spending quality time with friends, and from making memories. I am slowly, but surely, learning to create margin and hold my schedule with open hands. (Proverbs 16:9)
Spend more time with friends
Even though I am quite the social butterfly, it was sometimes easier to hide away in my dorm room than have to deal with the potential nerves and insecurities I would face by hanging out with other people. More times than I would like to admit, I said “no” to social opportunities. I wish I had been less afraid and more confident in my friendships. (Mark 12:31)
Be more spontaneous
Do you notice a theme in what I wish I did differently in college? My tight grasp on my schedule and my fear of other’s opinions kept me from being spontaneous. I am slowly but surely learning how to drop my plans to make a spontaneous memory with some of my most cherished friends. If there is one thing on this list that I want to strive to do differently in my final year, it is this one.
Stay up later
Some of your best memories, adventures, and conversations in college will happen after midnight. And I cannot help but wonder how many of those I missed out on by going to bed early. Sure a consistent sleep schedule paid off, but I regret choosing sleep over spontaneous late night shenanigans on a number of occasions.
I know that I have work-a-holic tendencies. It became very easy for me to spend an entire weekend working in the library, just so I would mentally feel better. None of that was necessary or beneficial. I needed to be better at setting aside time to just be still and relax. (Matthew 11:28-30)