Ten Things I've Learned Post College

Wednesday, July 17, 2013
I do not know about the rest of the college-graduate population, but I've learned quite a lot from my experience in college - all of which relates to how much time I have dedicated in school and how unappreciative I was with the things around me. I'll explain what I mean in just a little bit.

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10. I worried about the future.

Now you must be thinking, "Well of course there is nothing wrong with worrying about the future!" And you are absolutely correct. There is nothing wrong with worrying about the future. But there is something wrong about obsessing about it and constantly throwing yourself in a bottomless pit of sadness and self-pity when you cannot achieve the goals that you have set yourself to do. When you are in college, you are supposed to be able to experience the fun things that you do not normally get anywhere else. It is the one time in your life that you can explore the different aspects of life that you would never get to experience being at home or when you are younger. I never got the chance to go out and experience those things because I was too concerned about the future. I wondered the what ifs in life and forgot about the present. I wanted to be the best fashion designer and wanted to get good grades in order for me to get an amazing job or get accepted into grad school. If you spend your four years or so worrying about the future, you will never get the time to live in the present - in the moment.

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09. I never left my comfort zone.

When it came down to it, I never left my comfort zone until it was all over for me. Those endless invites to go dancing or attend various exhibitions went to waste. I never got to dip my feet into the water and let loose. Now I am not saying I regret going out to a night of drinking with friends and being wasted. I am far from that. What I am saying is that I regret not doing the things that I was debating whether or not I should go or not. All those times I rejected someone's offer to go to an art exhibit or to an ice-cream social made me realize that they were just as beneficial to my life/future endeavors as school was. Half of the work would have been done for me had I gone out and networked with people, but I was too caught up with wanting to be the perfect student that I missed out on those amazing opportunities to meet my seniors.

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08. I had trouble figuring myself out.

Everyone has trouble figuring out what they want to do in life. I am almost 99% positive that I am not the only one who feels this way. I was at a lost with myself years prior to going to college. I did not know what I liked and what I did not like. I did not know what my favorite color was, what kind of music I should have been listening to or whether or not skinny jeans were my style (thank goodness I made the right choice while we are still on the subject). I did not know who I was and because of that I kept fighting with myself internally. I worried so much about what I should be doing and forgot about what I could have been doing. All those years worrying about how I was projecting myself onto my peers could have been years of me bettering myself as a person.

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07. I never thought outside of the box.

I was narrow-minded and naive. I thought that life was just like an algebraic equation where there is only one solid answer and that was it. I never went outside of the box and thought of all the possibilities there were out there for me. I thought that I had to be a certain person in order to be accepted into society. I hoped that the person that I molded myself to be would give me the luxuries that I yearned for. No, I did not think once that perhaps I was already good enough for the world and that I just had to simply believe in me - in myself. I had options and I still do.

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06. I lost more than I had gained.

My friend(ships) sunk. All but two or three had disappeared and with that came loneliness and regret. College is about meeting new people and making the connections of a lifetime. I did not get that until I was ready to graduate. Friends are essential to our human race. It makes us feel complete, needed, loved, wanted, and more. But more so than anything else, friendships allow us to build on ourselves as individuals both in personality and in character. As much as I would like to believe that I am strong on my own, I did not come out of college alone. I had the help of a few friends and soon enough many more.

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05. I left behind things that I loved most.

Believe it or not, I love to go out. I love going to the beach or cruising along the sidewalk on a skateboard. I love to surf from time to time (though I am not good at it). I would love to feel the snow against my face as I carve down a slope on a snowboard. Those are the things that I love to do and would do over and over again. I would never in a million years think that I would give it all up just to get an A+ on a liberal arts class that I could easily pass without trying. But I threw it all away just so that I could put a bit of effort into writing a paper about why I love fashion instead. Now as I look back on what my favorite memories were in life, it would have to be those moments of freedom that I felt as the wind lightly caressed my cheek as the wheels of my skateboard skidded against the concrete of the sidewalk or the gentle warmth that covered my toes as I run across the beach to touch the water. Those were the moments I felt like I was alive. Those were the moments that should have reoccurred more than once in my life.

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04. I took my well-being for granted.

Believe it or not, you can burn yourself out from studying too hard. I told myself that I would stay up for nights trying to finish a project only to find myself at a doctor's office waiting for my name to be called amongst other families who were aching to see the same doctor. School is important, but your health is priority. I learned this the hard way as I struggled to stay up for my lecture because I stayed up all night rereading the assignment. You cannot get far in life if you wring yourself out too thin. Your body loves you and is willing to keep you up late at night, but treat it well. If you feel tired, go to bed. Do not burn yourself out because the last thing you need is to be out of commission for three days because you did not let your body rest.

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03. I worked so hard I forgot how to work smart.

I never did understand the saying, "Work smart, not hard" because in the end I learned what that saying really meant. There is only one way to work and it is to work smart. Nothing in life is ever difficult unless you make it difficult for yourself. All these years of crying and tormenting my mental health could have been alleviated had I just taken a deep breath and thought things through rationally. I worked myself too hard that I ended up being a stickler about school in general. Things had to go in a certain way or else it would end up in the nearest trash bin alongside many other failed attempts. I took the long road rather than the short road because I was afraid I would get lost - ironic is it not?

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02. There is a definite greener side.

In fact, anywhere you go in life can lead you to a greener side of things. It is solely dependent on how you make of it (or how often you water it). I am quite the Negative Nancy when it comes to any mishaps or unfortunate events. I hate having to deal with things that do not happen to go my way. Because of that, I end up being more of a pessimistic person. College were not the happiest years of my life like it should have been, but I realize now it was all my fault for not making them my happiest years. A lot of the problems that rose over the years could have been easily extinguished had I simply made it out to be. Being optimistic does not solve a problem, per-say, but it definitely makes you a calmer and more collected person.

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01. I forgot to appreciate others.

There are things out there in life that are just as important as education. You never want to forget to take the time out and appreciate those who have supported you whether they were behind you or supported you from afar. As Kanye said:

"If you admire somebody you should go on 'head tell 'em. People never get the flowers while they can still smell 'em".
- Kanye West ("Big Brother" from Graduation album)

Life is not just about school so while you are in college, remember that. Grades are important, but so are the other things in life. It is all about balance and without balance, you will end up wasting four years of your life wondering about the what ifs.