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.
5. You’re not here for your MRS degree
You are here to learn and take the world by storm with your curiosity and boundless desire for knowledge. Some weeks it will seem like everyone has a boyfriend and that everyone is so in love you could throw up. It doesn’t matter; stop looking for love, because it doesn’t work that way. When you least expect it, you will meet someone, and he will make you an amazing mix CD. He’ll take you for coffee before Spanish and his kisses will be so honest and incredible, you won’t be able to sleep just thinking about them. If he breaks your heart, don’t let him break you. You are not through here yet. Take your sadness and put it into something tangible; a story, poem, film, song. Enter a writing contest. Start looking into law schools. Ace that economics final because you are unstoppable.
6. Be Patient.
You’re not going to be a successful writer, biologist or CEO overnight. These things take time, money and hard work. You will undoubtedly find yourself as a lowly intern making coffee for some horrible woman with an unforgiving face. You will have good days, bad days and days you wish never happened. You will constantly oscillate; the road to success is not a straight line. You will be confronted by a ten-foot-tall pile of rejection letters; don’t burn them. Jump in them like you would crunchy leaves and keep writing, thinking, and putting your thoughts into something beautiful. There is no such thing as writer’s block and there is never a bad time to start planning out your career. Don’t write for anyone but yourself; the moment you start writing for an audience, is the moment your fire starts going out. Keep that fire blazing with your bravery and tenacity.
7. Keep your friendships alive.
Because someday, this will be a hard thing to do. Your best friends will scatter like a game of pool. One will move to rural Texas to pursue a singing career, while the other will get married a year after you graduate in some foreign country. Cherish this time you have with the friends you grew up with and the friends you will meet. Get to know them. For their birthdays, buy them your favorite book and tell them why. Watch Spice World and get s**t-faced together on a school night. Listen to them when they need you. Be there for them even if they say they don’t. Because they probably do.
8. These are not the best years of your life.
That is a myth made up by college marketers. You will probably have really fun experiences, meet amazing individuals, and go to some outrageous themed parties. This will be the time to appropriately wear a sexy Winnie the Pooh costume on Halloween. To drink until you are more hilarious than Tina Fey. Be surrounded by people your own age at all times. But you’ll have bad days, too. You’ll have some terrible experiences that make you question ever leaving home. You’ll find yourself walking home alone from a basketball party. It will be cold and rainy, and you will realize you lost your dorm key, and that you and your neighbor are not on speaking terms. You’re allowed to feel lonely once in awhile. It’s okay. Everyone does sometimes.
Be fearless. Make the world your bitch, and don’t accept no for an answer. Be yourself and love who you are more than you love anyone else. It’s okay to put yourself first. Stop thinking about the past and put all of your fiery energy towards the future. Work hard before you play hard. Be kind to everyone, but don’t let people walk all over you just because they think they can. The thing is, they can’t. Appreciate those that love you, like your friends and family. Now is the time to figure out who you are and how you will conquer the world. Don’t let anyone stop you.
Featured image via Shutterstock