Recently my dad asked me, “if you could give your freshman self any advice what would it be?” I had never actually thought about this before, but the question really caused me to reflect on what I wish I had known just four short years ago. So here are six things I came up with that I wish I could have told my college freshman self.
1. Boundaries Aren’t Just For Relationships
I’ve worked so many various jobs and internships throughout my time in college. Like anything in life, some of them have been absolutely amazing and some of them have been huge headaches. I pride myself on being a very competent person and have found out the hard way that competence is an easily and shamelessly exploited commodity in today’s day and age. Not being someone who likes to let people down, this led to taking way too much on than I could handle resulting in some unhealthy work-life boundaries. I’m glad I’ve found this out the hard way before I enter the full-fledged scary adult word they call full-time work, but definitely wish I could have saved myself the heartache and told my freshman self to set boundaries not only in my personal relationships but also in my work relationships.
2. Stop Being Influenced By Others
I’ve made a lot of decisions throughout the past few years of my life based on influence. During my freshman year, I was a huge nerd who liked to study hard on Friday nights instead of going out and letting loose. As time went on, I stopped being true to my inner-nerd due to influences of others who thought I should be getting out and stop taking myself so seriously. While part of this was good for me and got me out of my comfort zone, it’s never a great idea to make decisions in your life based off of what others tell you should be doing, or what you think is right. You should make decisions based of what you feel in your heart is right, is true to yourself, and makes you genuinely happy (so what if I want to binge watch The Office in my pjs on Saturday night if I have a smile on my face).
3. Don’t Compare Yourself
This is a bit along the same lines as above, but I also wish I could tell my freshman self not to compare myself to others. It’s so easy to see someone’s perfect cookie-cutter life on social media, a friend land the perfect internship you’ve only been able to dream of, or someone else living the life of an absolute social butterfly when your closest friend is Michael Scott (I was really obsessed with the Office freshman year), and feel like your life doesn’t match up. But this will inevitably only lead to a downward spiral and set you back instead of lift you up. It seems cliche but it’s so true – it’s important to celebrate, cherish, and take pride in who you are and where you are in life. Don’t get caught up in the past or future, and more importantly someone else’s (because really who cares?).
4. Take Care Of Yourself
This is actually something I’ve just recently come to fully realize, but self-care is THE BEST thing you can do for yourself. Take care of yourself and all your other obligations will improve. Make time to workout, relax, and recharge – think of it as an appointment you have with yourself. Sooner or later all your work, responsibilities, and stresses are going to catch up to you and if you don’t have a good self-care routine in place it can be really hard to figure out how to pick up the pieces and keep on moving forward.
5. Make Your Dorm/Apartment Feel Like Home
So many people told me going into college that it wasn’t really worth it to decorate your dorm space a lot, or to buy decent furniture for your apartment, but I disagree. Having a space that was truly my own and my place of sanctuary really made it easier for me to be so far from home. When I moved into an apartment, I took pride in being able to decorate my apartment and make it nice (although I wouldn’t recommend this if you or your roommate is going to throw parties at your place).
6. Make Time For Family
College friends are cool and all, but family is forever. Don’t take that for granted.