Things I Learned in My Freshman Year of College

I had all my final tests today, and as of 4:30 pm today, I was a free woman. Slight. Aside from the other manageable tasks that lie ahead in the next few days, today is technically my final day in school. Never mind that I had a play to prepare for, never mind that I still have a portfolio due Monday, never mind that I probably flunked my literature and math finals. Summer is here, and the carefree feeling is definitely a welcome guest. As I lie here typing this, all my academic worries drift away. Did freshman year really just pass by like that? I am once again aware of how fast time really is. While I do have the time to rest, I want to talk about the things I learned in college.

Friendships

1. The people I thought I was going to be friends with ended up being friendly acquaintances.

Don’t get me wrong, I did make some genuine friends in college. What I’m pointing out here is that most of the people I have met (as nice and as friendly as they are) were the type of people I’d greet on the way to class, but never really sit down and talk to. Conversely, there are people whom I have developed great connections with that would (hopefully) transcend time and go beyond my college years.

2. High school friends will always be friends.

It was always a welcome sight to see my high school friends in college. Even though we wouldn’t hang out anymore, seeing each other and acknowledging each other’s presence and giving each other the biggest, nicest hugs never fail to make my day. Surprisingly, people I didn’t really talk to in high school became friendly acquaintances, which I believe is a step up from being totally ignorant of each other’s existence in high school.

3.  You never truly know a person, no matter how long you’ve been friends.

As much as I’d like to say that college was full of good memories, it definitely was not, especially in friendships. Long time friends really end up changing in college. I was betrayed by friends I thought I knew. I was back-stabbed by people whom I have known for years.

4. Be open to opportunities and experiences.

I was never really active in any organizations until my second semester in college. I started being more involved in a certain organization and made so many friends there. I guess taking the first step and putting myself out there was really worth it because I got to meet so many people I otherwise would not have met if I stayed a social recluse in college. This is helpful for those who don’t really like partying it up in college. Join stuff, it’ll be worth its worth in experience and people.

Academics

1. Learn to accept that you can’t be good at everything all the time.

I was a consistent honor student in high school, so having grades that didn’t live up to my standards really got to my ego. I didn’t like to admit it to myself, but maybe it was because I associated my self-worth to what I perceived to be valuable and important (aka grades. don’t judge please). My dad always told me that the most ordinary people are the happiest. I guess my having ordinary grades helped me become more open to failing and not living up to my standards. Bottom line is, if you’re not a genius, college will probably put you down many times and make you feel stupid, but that’s okay. If you always felt smart and did everything as planned in college, then you’re not exactly learning and experiencing anything different.

2. Go with the flow.

There were so many times during my freshman year that I just wanted to pull my hair out and punch a wall (not exactly the best picture, but you get the idea). I am the type of person to stress out over the smallest things. When stress did get to me (which was most of the time), my body would react physically. I’d stress-eat. I’d always feel tired. I’d feel tired complaining, but I could not help but complain (stupid, I know). When all the assessments and papers and requirements were literally dumped onto me in a surprisingly precise deadlines, my disposition towards other would change. I’d be sad and moody all the time, and it would affect everything I did. I guess I managed to get through this somehow. Being an obsessively hard worker, I guess this compulsion to stress out never really goes away, but the only thing that worked for me was when I realized that I hated feeling bad whenever I was stressed. I hated how my academics were affecting myself as a person. When I was at my lowest point, it was then that I realized how little my grades meant to me compared to my own well-being (as stupid as that sounds). So I did what most of my peers did. I went with the flow, and just took things in stride and just contained my perfectionist side. There is a degree of acceptance that must be had (see number one) and realized in order for going with the flow to be possible.

3. Learning is not limited to what your professors say. More often than not, it’s what they don’t say that matters the most.

In college, the learning environment is vastly different. Professors are not afraid to ask real questions, one that requires more than just listening to a sermon in class and getting everything right in an exam. People are so conditioned to think that teachers must feed students the information they need, and when teachers ask related (but not completely similar) items in the test to test application skills, students tend to riot and say “She’s not a good teacher.” Although there is an understandable basis in this (seeing as I was once an advocate of such learning), in college, one is taught to think for him or herself. Professors do not feed information, the student him or herself are considered equals in the pursuit of knowledge in a college campus. Do not expect professors to give you everything you need to know. They are there to facilitate your learning, not give you information (A computer can do that.) Don’t be appalled when professors ask test questions or discussion questions that require outside research and advance readings on a subject, because that is what is expected.

Love/Romance

1. Don’t look for it.

It’s one thing to be open to the possibility of a romance, but it’s entirely different when one actively pursues it. Personally, I was so fixated on having a college romance early on that I often felt really bad when my efforts towards a certain person went unnoticed. I felt that I was intentionally giving myself heartache. As it was both beautiful and stupid, I kept on going like this for majority of my freshman year, spending most of my time daydreaming and stalking them on facebook. When I did get what i wanted, which were mostly “almost-relationships” (basically, when someone I was interested in liked me back), I realized that these weren’t the kind of relationships I wanted. More often than not, I’d quickly lose interest in the people who would like me back. Temporary happiness becomes dissatisfaction and guilt. It’s just not my time yet, and I have learned how to wait and be open to situations. The best things worth waiting for are not just rashly put together in a span of a week or a month.

2. It’s okay to have harmless crushes/ happy crushes.

Coming from an ultra-conservative high school, the notion of a crush was automatically considered gossip material. It was in college that I understood what a happy crush was, and I had a lot of them. My friends who had relationships of their own had happy crushes too. It’s not something that is meant to be taken really seriously, and it does help elevate your mood every once in a while when you do get to talk to him/her.

3. As cliche as it sounds, follow your heart.

Remember number one, and how I talked about being in “almost-relationships”? They stayed “almost-relationships” because I would shut them off before things got any more serious. When I felt that something did not feel right about the whole thing, it did me some good to sit down with my “almost-partners” and talk about things. My “almosts” stay friends with me. We have no bad blood because things ended well and honestly. People really do appreciate a bit of honesty. In other scenarios, when things feel really right, then it’s best to do them. I have had feelings for a friend of mine for a year, and I really wanted to tell him how I felt about him because : 1. It would give me closure and accept that I have done everything in my power possible 2. It would cut off hope and help me move on 3. We would still remain friends no matter what. I do not regret telling him that I liked him, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself in my freshman year. When it feels right and you wouldn’t regret anything in the end no matter the consequence, then it would be best to follow your heart (or your gut, whichever floats your boat).

There you have it! Those are a few life lessons I’ve learned in my freshman year of college. I felt like I needed to write this all down because I fear forgetting what I want to say. I think it’s just the fact that I am officially done with 1/4th of my college experience that absolutely overwhelms me right now. I can’t wait for the next chapter of my life to begin. For now, thank you, freshman year, and every experience that made it worthwhile!

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