Looking back on the past four years, I am amazed by everything that has occurred in such a short span of time. I am not remotely the same person now as I was when I started at the University of Oregon. There will not be another period of my life--other than my Peace Corps service, I'm sure--that will change me as much as my experiences at UO have. When it comes right down to it, I love my school, and I am so sad to leave!
This bittersweet nostalgia has caused me to think about the things I've learned from moving away from home, living on my own, creating my own circle of friends and colleagues, and working several jobs while earning a double degree. The following list is a mix of life lessons--in no particular order--that I've learned from my own mistakes, the mistakes of others, and advice to anyone who might be on the brink of adulthood/about to begin college themselves. (Disclaimer: I am still working on more than a few of these!) I hope you find it interesting or useful to some extent.
25 Things I Learned in College
1. "Adulthood" does not equal maturity.
2. No one can get through life alone; everybody needs help. Learn to ask for it because you WILL need it.
3. There is a difference between quitting because you're lazy and re-prioritizing because you're in over your head. The former is something to be ashamed of, the latter is not.
4. Don't judge others based on their life choices. People have reasons for the things they do, you just might not be able to understand them.
5. You are responsible for your decisions. Especially the stupid ones.
6. Don't make decisions when you're angry, homesick, or under the influence of anything--including love.
7. People are going to disagree with you on everything. Learn not to take it personally and don't waste time trying to change their mind.
8. Religion and spirituality are two intersecting (yet very different) things. Religion is a human institution and can be corrupted--easily. A relationship with God, should you choose to pursue one, is pure. Don't lose faith because of the words or actions of others; nobody is perfect.
9. If you feel that you have everything figured out, that's when you're in big trouble.
10. Keep Calm and Call Mom. Don't freak out and call Mom, you will scare her. Do your freaking out beforehand.
11. Everything your parents do, no matter how crazy, is motivated by love.
12. Being a good sports fan is like being married. You've got to stand by your team for better or worse and stick up for them when they're dishonored. Keep an eye out for those who don't; fairweather fans and bandwagoners are usually shady people.
13. Don't make friends that are the same as you; you will clash eventually. Having friends that are different from you is more fun anyway.
14. Real friends will be there for you when you need it. Period. Remember and reciprocate. A friend never says "let me know if you need anything," she already knows if you need something.
15. Jealousy is not only unattractive, it is pointless. Holding grudges is the same, except way more exhausting.
16. You will inevitably hate your bosses and/or your co-workers. Don't sweat it; you just have to work with them, you don't have to get along.
17. Don't sacrifice for those who won't sacrifice for you.
18. The Sex and the City rule is right: it takes half the duration of the relationship to get over someone. Sometimes longer. Sometimes forever.19. Say how you feel, when you feel it. If you don't, you'll regret it later.
20. SAVE YOUR MONEY. For what? Stolen bikes, broken laptops, emergency hotel rooms, urgent care visits, killer sales on Ebay...you never know what you'll be in for tomorrow. Be honest with yourself and others if you can't afford something; learn to differentiate between your wants and your needs.
21. Air travel is awkward, infuriating, and unreliable.
22. The health care system in the US is a cruel joke.
23. You will be rejected many times. Don't dwell on it and don't be ashamed; there is something better approaching.
24. If your life goals are not constantly changing, you're doing it wrong.
25. You can do it. No, really, you can. Those tacky motivational posters are right. You will surprise yourself with what you are capable of.