Everyone told me college would be 'the best four years of your life,' but to say I didn't have your typical college experience would be putting it lightly.
For so long, I felt this pressure to pretend I was fine. To pretend I wasn't overwhelmed, I didn't just have another breakdown, I had it all together.
I really struggled to appreciate the beauty of my time in undergrad because of how much unexpected adversity I was experiencing - and now I realize that I wasn't alone.
Many of my friends struggled through their own issues, but so few of us spoke up about them. So now, I'm sharing the five things I wish someone had told me in college.
1. You're Not Supposed To Have It All Together
College is your time to learn, to try, to fail. Aside from your classes, of course, there is no better time in your life to fail than in college.
Think for a second about how big our world is and all that it has to offer. There are jobs out there you never even knew existed; the love of your life could be in a city you've never traveled to; your calling may be the one thing you're too scared to try again because you didn't succeed the first time around.
Trust me when I say, failure is a necessary evil - the sooner you accept your failures and all they have to teach you, the happier and more successful you will be.
2. Find Your Niche and Hold On
With so many moments where you feel like you're at your breaking point, finding a safe haven is crucial for your mental health in college. Keep in mind that everyone's outlet looks different and that is okay.
Whether it's playing a club sport, getting a job on campus, mentoring, or even joining Greek life - find a community where you feel you can be entirely, unapologetically, yourself. As long as it's a place that leaves you feeling less stressed, not more.
3. Change Is Not The Enemy
There can be an unbelievable amount of uncertainty in college. Should I change my major? Should I transfer to a different school? Do I need to get an internship? How can I be a full-time student and still make money?
Accepting the revolving door of changes during those four quick years was one of the things I struggled with the most. I remember laying in bed some nights thinking: Once I graduate, have my own place, get a great salary, everything is going to be sooo much easier.
Until your washing machine breaks, your dog gets sick, your car won't start in the dead of winter, and your 9-5 is more stressful than any 5 page paper you've ever written.
While having a routine is important, learn to be flexible. Learn that our world is ever-changing and life isn't about controlling change, it's about being the best version of yourself no matter what is going on around you.
4. Exhaustion Is Not a Badge of Honor
It is okay to just be. You can be a committed college student without being the president of three clubs, raising the most money for your sorority, volunteering on and off campus, working a part-time job, and being a straight-A student.
For so long, I completely burnt myself out trying to do EVERYTHING. It is okay to not have every minute of your day planned. It is okay to rest when your body needs to rest. It is okay to take mental health days. It is okay to not do it all. You don't need to be everything to everyone.
You are enough. What you are doing is enough.
5. You Are Not Alone
Although sometimes we feel deeply alone, we never truly are.
I think about the hardest, most painful, stressful experiences that have ever happened to me and I can see now just how many other people have been through very similar experiences.
It's so easy to isolate yourself when you're overwhelmed or hurting. Saying "no one understands this" or "no one knows what I'm going through" rolls off of the tongue, doesn't it?But if you haven't found someone who understands or knows what you're going through, keep looking.
I promise you, your support system is out there.
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