Last Thursday, my Biology professor clicked to the last slide in the lecture, and before I knew it, the last class of my sophomore year of college was over. I walked out of class feeling relieved but also a bit sad – did my first half of undergrad really go by that quickly? I never thought that my college years would seem just as short as my high school years.
But if I’ve learned anything in this past year, or the past two years I’ve spent so far pursuing my degree, it’s that there is no right, wrong, or “normal” way to go to college. Anyone’s college experience is malleable, and it’s important to make the most of it while you can. Take me, for example – I went from a private four-year institution to community college, and now I’m preparing to make the transition to another four-year university. Admittedly I used to be disappointed that things turned out this way for me, because I thought that I would just have to go to one school and be done, but now all I can do is laugh, because as cheesy as it sounds, life really is crazy. All in all, college has been enjoyable so far, and has taken me on so many adventures – most of which I made happen on my own.
Incidentally, the month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Since my freshman year of college, my mental and emotional states have been all over the place, and in some cases I had to learn the hard way that I had to take better care of myself. I’ve written about my first year of college away from home to some degree in previous posts, but it took me a while to realize that I wasn’t healthy emotionally, physically, or mentally during my time in Ithaca. I didn’t make myself available to anything new – I devoted all of my time to my work study jobs and cramming for my classes, and would just spend any other time in my dorm, wearing my long-distance boyfriend’s sweatshirt while watching Netflix in bed and waiting for him to text me. I isolated myself but blamed my loneliness on other things. I wanted a good college experience but I wasn’t making the effort, and I wasn’t willing to make the first move, to take that little leap of faith – introducing myself to someone instead of waiting to be approached or waiting to be noticed. Any kind of change starts with yourself.
And since I left Ithaca last May, my mental health has drastically improved. Granted, it has taken some time, and I still struggle with anxiety in big and small doses, but I have felt a drastic change in my mood and overall state of being since the start of this past semester.
Right before this semester started I was beginning to go through an emotionally traumatic breakup. I feel like I’ve written enough about the healing process, so I’ll spare you all, but looking back on everything that has happened from January to now is so mind-boggling. I’ve learned so much about myself and who I want to be, and how to be happy. And today I’m going to share a few truths I’ve discovered this semester:
Don’t chase what doesn’t want to stay
It took me a while to accept this. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how long someone was in your life or how much they meant to you – despite all of that, they will still want to leave. If someone doesn’t want to accept a place in your life, don’t keep trying to make them fit anyway. Whoever wants to be in your life will show you, but still be cautious with who you choose to let in.
Effort means everything
One of the most important factors to happiness and personal success is effort. If you’re not willing to put in the work, then you can’t be disappointed when something doesn’t happen. If you want to make more friends – be the first one to say hi. If you want good grades, make the time to study. If you want a certain job or internship, put yourself out there and get some experience. You won’t see any results if you refuse to make things happen on your own. Some people take a lot of pride in seeming nonchalant, but at the end of the day, it’s cool to care about things.
Don’t take on more than you can handle
One of my friends told me that I love being busy, and it’s one of my fatal flaws. I hate not being active in some way. But I’ve learned that you don’t have to do everything all at once. Even though it’s technically summer for me now, I’m still taking two online classes, and for half of the summer I’m going to have two jobs. My schedule may seem hectic, but every week I make sure that I have a day or two to relax and do what I want. Make time for yourself and the things that you love so you don’t get overwhelmed.
Embrace who you are
Although I haven’t read any of her work, Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat Prey Love) once said “Embrace the glorious mess that you are.” Sometimes I find myself being afraid of being “too much” of something – I’m too weird, too uptight, too emotional, or if my style is too daring, or my laugh is too loud. But deep down I know it’s silly to think that. There are so many components to my identity, and I’m not going to sacrifice one or more of them just for someone’s approval. Whatever you think is too much about yourself is more than enough. We all have parts of us that are messy – we have unkempt flyway hairs and loose threads hanging from our clothes. If you’re comfortable with who you are, then no one else can make you feel bad for being yourself. Don’t be afraid to laugh fully, love with your whole heart, wear those high-top Vans with cardigans and button-down shirts.
On that note, I hope that everyone had a good semester and overall year. Look back to the beginning of the school year and see how much progress you’ve made since then, and how much you’ve grown.
Best of luck to everyone still preparing for and taking finals!
With summer just around the corner, make some room in your life for happiness.
Until next time, with love,