Things I Wish I Could Go Back And Say To My College Self

Sometimes I wish there had been a benevolent college fairy appointed to me along with my welcome package, text books and new twin bed – or a spirit guide that could have lead me in the right direction, not the blue-raspberry vodka shots. Like everyone else, I had to figure things out along the way, make impromptu decisions and royally mess up sometimes in the process.

Whether you’re a second semester freshman or sixth year senior, listen up! Time is so ephemeral. By the time you know it, you’ll be prodding your hair with bobby pins so that your cap will stay on your head and telling yourself not to trip on stage when they call out your name.

But in the meantime, here are some pro-tips from an ex-college girl who wants only the best for wonderful and amazing you.

1. Never let a person make you feel like you don’t exist.

Because you do. In fact, you are larger than life. Some people will try and make you forget this; they will discourage you, make you feel insignificant, small and stupid. It’s up to you to disregard their awful behavior and move on. This is only the beginning. There will be a lot of mean people you will come across: boys, girls, bosses, co-workers, sorority and fraternity sisters, roommates and even professors. If your instructor announces that she or he never gives out As, then consider that a challenge accepted.

2. You are not fat.

If you end up at McDonalds at 2am., don’t you dare hate yourself afterwards. Embrace your body, try to be as healthy as you can be (I know it’s hard on a budget) and enjoy your awesome young-adult metabolism, because trust me, it won’t stay that way for long. Stop comparing yourself to the women in magazines; they are air-brushed and probably live on three carrot sticks a day. Don’t feel guilty if you didn’t hit up the gym today, it’s not a big deal. You are beautiful, strong and real. Remember that.

3. Truly stop caring what everyone else thinks.

I know that’s easier said than done, and the truth is that everyone is going to care at least a little bit. I know I did and still do. But now is the time is wear a lime green taffeta dress and combat boots to your philosophy study group and dye your hair pink. For once in your life, you are allowed to totally express yourself with little to no consequences… unless you are wearing a fur coat to a PETA rally. Don’t do that. Stop doing things that don’t make you happy. If you’re sick of the frat parties your friends bring you to, then find another way to have a good time! If no one will go to the Radiohead concert with you, go by yourself and allow music to change your life. Don’t limit yourself. Do what you want within good reason, and take advantage of your freedom.

4. Your roommate is not your soulmate.

That is, don’t be upset if you don’t get along with your roommates; it’s really hard living with other people you hardly know in such a small proximity. For some, this is how you’ll meet your best friend for life. For others, your enemy. Either way, there is not much you can do about it except choose wisely, communicate and do your own dishes. I wouldn’t recommend rooming with the party friend who doesn’t have her act together, always seems to flake out when it comes to finances and casually mentions she’s on anti-psychotics. At times, you will be the bad roommate who leaves her/his books and shoes all over the living room floor. You are not perfect, and life gets hectic. Just apologize and clean up your messes.

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  • Miretti Liyunzira

    Thank you for the good post:)

  • Victoria Anderson

    I’m printing this off and putting it on my wall. It was just what I needed at the moment (going to be graduating in a few months). Thank you!

    • Gina Vaynshteyn

      Thank you, and congrats!!

  • Charity S Wagner

    A quote from Proverbs, “Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life”. Wish I’d known what the importance of this back then & knew how to apply it…. Still learning.

  • Manon van Schijndel

    Thank you for this post! I’m a freshman in my second semester and I have been wondering “Is this supposed to be the best time of my life?”. Well sometimes it isn’t! I’m going to save this article and reread it during tough times!

  • Rachel Barth

    Thank you thank you thank you! As a recent college grad, I’ve been feeling sad about it all being over. I really enjoyed almost every aspect of college (especially my last semester) and I miss my friends, so I really had been feeling like my life was just going downhill and was never going to get as good as college was. I’ll definitely been keeping this article in mind!

    • Gina Vaynshteyn

      I feel you. Sometimes I feel super down and out about my college experience being over, but I remind myself I have so much to look forward to!

  • Malavika Prabhakar

    LOVE IT! and THANK YOU :)

  • Leigh Chandler

    As a second-semester freshman who’s weekend has consisted of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, thank you!

  • Alyssa Wongkee

    Really liked this post. I am graduating in a month, and really not looking forward to my friends scattering like pool balls.

  • Sabrina Holleran

    This is the commencement address I needed to hear.

    It’s been 10 yrs and I’ve been taking stock of how I’ve grown since. Having studied at 5 different colleges, lived on campus and commuted, at different stages of adulthood, I’m glad I fit college in and finished. While I think you considered the traditional student when you composed this, it has much to say to even those starting college or resuming it years later years later than the typical late teens.

    Our older girls are 25 and 22, both finishing college this year. I’m printing it and tucking it in their graduation cards. We will be launching our youngest girl, 16, in a couple years.

    Thank you for putting into words very uplifting sentiments.

    You are going places.

    • Gina Vaynshteyn

      Thank you so much! Congrats to your girls; college and finishing college are such scary, wonderful things.

  • Diana Martinez


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