In less than one week, I will be a college graduate. The concept of *gulp* graduating is absolutely unfathomable to me. What do you mean I have to worry about more than just research papers and finals? I have to live without my best friends being one door away? It is so hard to believe that my four years is finally up, and that I have to continue on to the *another gulp* real world. Throughout my college experience, I have learned so much more than I ever imagined possible. I’ve done things that I never thought I could do, with the most amazing people I could have hoped to meet by my side. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be graduating with three degrees in four years. I had no idea I would have the opportunity to travel to England, Italy, France, Greece, Turkey, or Mexico. I definitely didn’t think I would get so involved with Connecticut politics; working at both the Superior Court and the Capitol.
Most shockingly, I could have never predicted accepting a full-time job lobbying for the municipalities of Connecticut. I still remember the first conversation I had with one of the first boys I met in college – him telling me he wanted to be a lobbyist, me asking “what’s that?” like an idiot, and then upon him explaining it to me, responding with “that sounds horrible.” I guess I owe you an apology for that one, Ross. It’s scary to think that at eighteen, I was completely turned off by the idea of doing exactly what I’m doing today – and now, it’s something I’m passionate about. This just goes to show that you have no obligation to be the same person you previously were; which brings me to the purpose of this post – to tell you about some of the most important lessons I learned while in college.
- You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. I’ve talked about this in a post or two before, but I had to reiterate because it truly is the most important thing I have learned. Time and time again I come across people in my life who expect me to change in order to shape myself into the person they want me to be, which simply makes no sense. At the end of the day, I’m the one that has to like what I’m doing with my life. I’m the one that feels the repercussions of my actions, not anyone else. If someone doesn’t like the person you are, that’s their problem – and, of course, you’re going to run into these types of people. Just remember that you don’t owe anyone anything because who you are isn’t up to them, it’s up to you.
- You know that thing you want to do, but haven’t yet because you’re too scared? Do it. When I was a sophomore, I noticed a study abroad trip on my University’s website that I thought looked like an amazing experience. None of my friends could do it with me, so I decided to do it alone. I remember thinking to myself what the hell am I doing here? as the bus took off towards JFK. I had the same thought as the plane was taking off towards Milan. By the time the trip was coming to an end, I was thinking to myself what the hell am I going to do without the friends I made? I didn’t regret a single thing about my decision to go on that trip, and I am now much more motivated to do the things I’m scared to do.
- Give people the benefit of the doubt. My junior year, two of my roommates had a group of friends they loved to hang out with that I simply did not like. I didn’t try to like them, either. I immediately counted them out based on my negative assumptions about their team, and I avoided spending time with them when they were in my apartment. This year, once I had (finally) broken up with my ex-boyfriend and (again, finally) had my “wait, I was doing life wrong” epiphany, I realized that I needed to be more open-minded about trying new things and meeting new people. I told my roommates that I was going to give them a chance, and guess who ended up being their biggest fan. I yelled from the stands at every home game the team had this season, watched every away game online, and now even can call one of the players my best friend.
- Life doesn’t go as planned. This is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned, especially this past year. Freshman year me thought that she would be transferring to a school in the South, graduating law school in 2020, and that her boyfriend was perfect. Senior year me is laughing in her face. Senior year me got laughed at a lot, too, though – I’ve definitely made my fair share of mistakes this year, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Every decision I have made has led me to become a more educated, mature, and faithful person. I’ve learned that no matter what I do, the only way to cope with the bad or the unknown is to simply realize that I can’t plan out my entire life. When I was younger, I used to have so much anxiety thinking about something jeopardizing my precious plan to become successful. I now understand that there is no way for me to know what’s going to come next. I have to have faith, and trust that everything will play out the way it’s supposed to.
About to embark upon my collegiate journey as an eager and motivated eighteen-year-old, I obviously knew I was going to learn a lot in the four years to come. What no one told me was that I wouldn’t learn nearly as many things about liberal arts as I would about myself. The list above doesn’t even begin to outline how much I have grown as a person since my days of signing my mom’s name on a dismissal note to get out of Environmental Science in high school. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, and cannot wait to see what life as a ‘real adult’ has in store for me.
As always, thank you for reading!