The lessons not featured in your syllabus
Four years is only a slice of life in hindsight. But these past four years of college have given me lessons that will last a lot longer than just a few short years or a fraction of my life. Here’s what I learned from my four years of undergrad at the University of Miami.
1. Don’t waste your time
Don’t waste your time on people who don’t give you the time of day. Don’t waste your time worrying about your plans for the weekend when it's only Tuesday. Don’t waste your time going to a party only because you have crippling FOMO. Don’t waste your time going to the football game when you know you just need a nap. Don’t waste your time chasing people who don’t want you. Know when what you're doing or who you're spending your days with isn't what you want.
2. Know your worth
It's important to know what you deserve before you settle for something you don’t. Throughout college, I’ve learned a lot about what I deserve, especially in friendships and relationships. One of my favorite quotes is “we accept the love we think we deserve.” I know this quote is long overdue, considering it’s from The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a (classic) movie that came out almost a decade ago (wow I’m old). But anyway, it's important to recognize that if we settle for bad relationships that’s what we’ll get. So know that if you deserve more, it's better being alone than sacrificing your worth.
3. There will always be another party
Let me set the scene for you. It's Friday night, 9:30 p.m. Facebook sends you a notification to remind you that Phi Delt’s Phichella party starts in an hour. But you’re in bed watching Netflix, no make-up on, with no desire to change out of your comfy sweats. And your friends are texting you when you should meet up to pregame, and what you’re wearing, and if you have any extra White Claws. Ah, the ultimate dilemma of a college student: to go or not to go out. FOMO isn’t a real thing when you’re missing a frat party, let’s be honest, the one lit Snapchat does not show the party’s true colors. Yeah sometimes they’re fun, but if you aren’t in the mood, why would you go? It's the same as ordering in a pizza when you were craving sushi. Why order pizza when you know deep down you aren’t in the mood? Why go out when you know, deep down, you don’t feel like it?
4. It’s who you’re with, not what you’re doing
Since I’m still on the topic of parties, there’s a universal truth to all of them: they can either be really boring or really fun. And what distinguishes the two is usually who you’re with, who you meet, and the music. And this principle doesn’t only apply to college parties. It also applies to everything, from going out to eat to beach days to spring break trips. In Miami, people live for splurging on expensive meals, but going to get a great meal in Brickell with a group of people you don’t really like is not worth the expensive restaurant check. Going all the way to South Beach with people who don’t value your company is also not worth it. Unless of course, you’re fine with drowning out the world with good music and a good tan (which, sometimes, is worth it).
But even spring break isn’t worth it if you’re with people you don’t like. I never had a “crazy spring break” throughout college, and yeah I’m bummed about it, but I had some great ones because I spent quality time with friends. Whether we traveled or just stayed put in Miami, I still enjoyed my time because I was with good company. One of my favorite memories of college happened after the party. We left early, hung out watching music videos and tv, ordered pizza, and went on a parking garage rooftop with a speaker in hand, and lots of energy. In years, I won’t remember that party, but I’ll remember what I did with my friends after. Good company makes for a good time, always.
5. Don’t hold on to people
In four years of college, I’ve gained and lost a lot of friends. Some lost by choice, some by distance or time, and some lost because they chose to say goodbye to me. And sometimes those friends made new friends and had different priorities. And if they don’t try to keep the friendship, then it's necessary to let them go. Be okay with saying goodbye a little too soon, and don’t long for people who aren’t putting in an effort. Follow your gut, and know when you aren’t getting what you want out of a relationship. Because people change their minds, and that’s okay.
6. Cleaning your room lifts your mood
I remember my freshman year dorm room: it was messy, cluttered, and just not that comfortable. I’m not the neatest and sometimes I tend to thrive in clutter, but I’ve learned that cleaning my room has great effects on my happiness. Whenever I was stressed, cleaning my room always made me feel a little less overwhelmed. It's nice sleeping in fresh sheets and walking on a lint-free, dirt-free carpet. It can even be fun when you’ve got a nice playlist going or a show in the background. A clean room makes all the difference. As a naturally messy person though, this is something I will have to put more effort into, so forgive me.
7. Concerts are worth the price tag
In college, I was fortunate enough to attend school in a city with a thriving music scene. I’d frequent my Songkick app, checking all the newest concert listings, and usually, I was never disappointed. And I’d splurge on concerts or club nights with DJs and every single time it was worth it. I’d choose a live concert or a club DJ set over a party with the same old playlist any day.
8. Putting yourself out there pays off
You don’t meet your best friends if you stay in your apartment or college dorm all day and night. I met my close friends in organizations, at random club meetings, and even parties. And what do those events all have in common? I put myself out there. If you don’t, you’ll never know who you’re missing out on. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable starting that first conversation or heading to an unknown place when you’d rather not, but the comfort you gain from good friends is well worth it.
9. You won’t vibe with everyone and that’s okay
As someone who is pretty choosy with who they spend their time with, I’ve realized especially in college, that a lot of people will never understand what I’m about. There are quite simply people we will never be on the same page or wavelength with. Vibes and energy are everything. There are so many people I’ve met in college who I don’t vibe with and because I understood that, I was able to choose who to hang out with or who not to hang out with. Saying you’re busy or slow burning someone you simply don't vibe with isn’t wrong. It's important to be selfish and spend time with people you vibe with. Because bad vibes add nothing to your life.
10. A few good friends are all you need
Throughout college, I’ve met lots of people. And sometimes I’d even value myself by how many people said hi to me at parties or how many friends I had in class. But that all doesn’t matter, because the people who you go to the party with matter. The people who you hang out with on a random Monday night matter. I don’t need a lot of friends to have a good time- just a few good ones is enough for me. There is so much you can do with just a few friends. I’d rather have plans with the same few people, than a bunch of different plans with different people every day of the week. It is not as fulfilling.
11. Doing things alone is okay
As a college freshman, I’d feel bad for myself if I didn’t have dinner or lunch plans with friends. But once I finally got a kitchen as a junior, I was completely okay with not having a plan to eat with people. I’d enjoy my afternoons and evenings cooking meals for myself. And be okay doing other things alone, like shopping, studying, watching a movie. Company is great, but when people are busy and you really just want to do something, just do it alone.
12. It's important to make mistakes
Did you say something stupid? Made a bad decision? That’s totally fine and very normal. We shouldn’t put pressure on ourselves to be perfect all the time. A couple of wrong decisions is totally normal and as long as you know when you’re making them and what you’re learning from them. And it is totally fine to learn through trial and error what is best for us. And we can only really know from experience.
13. People can change in such a short time
Obviously who you were last year isn’t the same as who you are now. But who you were before college is very different from who you were after. Before college I was a lot more scared of the world and was certainly not prepared for many of life’s challenges. But when you enter college you are thrown into a whole new world, and you are forced to adapt. When we experience so much change, it's inevitable to change without even realizing it. And what I’ve learned is it is very common, for me and others to change over time. It doesn’t make you any less you, it just makes you human. Recognize who you’re changing into and whether or not you like who you are, and know that it's possible to grow even more.
14. From situation to situation, I adapt
We all have our friends who know “the real us.” But then we have professors who might just see us as a name on a class roster, or our acquaintances who see us as the girl who goes out or the girl who’s always in the library. College is filled with varying situations, and it's likely I won’t have the same energy around a few classmates I rarely know as I would with a group of close friends. Sometimes I’d get down on myself, wondering why I wouldn’t act the same around my close friends than I would around others. But I learned with the various situations I’m in, I adapt to who I’m around. This might not be the case for everyone, but it is for me, and I’m happy that college has taught me that.
Overall, I learned a lot in college- how to use the pen tool, develop a pitch deck, write for advertising, the psychology of emotion, personality, evolution - I could go on. But what I learned that was most valuable was never written in any syllabus.