as if i haven’t nailed it in the head enough, college has definitely been the most fulfilling, interesting experience i’ve had yet. but, i’ve learned a lot of these things the hard way-which i believe is sometimes the best way to learn. but-these lessons i learned definitely helped make my year much more bearable.
13. don’t pay too much attention to what people think
this is ultimately important so you have the most genuine, unique freshman year. you are a brand new person coming into college. nobody cares what you do, or how you do it. i remember touring mizzou as a junior in high school, and being so uncomfortable and embarrassed that i was fast-walking through the quad behind my parents and my overly-excited tour guide trying to keep up/hear what they were seeing/take a glance at my future home. now, i see the high school tours walking through campus and i admire them because they truly have no idea what they are in for. trust me, if there are students staring at you when you’re on a college tour, it’s probably just because they’re jealous and they wish to be in your shoes.
12. say yes
don’t pass up late night ice cream runs. don’t pass up the opportunity to take an extra cookie when they make your favorite kind at the dining hall. don’t underestimate those times you’re with your friends indulging in calories and sugar and laughs. you will cherish those memories.
as i have probably talked about before, my friends and i love this quirky restaurant downtown, the diner. it is open 24 hours, tiny and claustrophobic, wonderful and has the best atmosphere in columbia. we went to a small concert downtown on a random thursday night that didn’t wrap up till around midnight, and we were all simply exhausted and tired from standing up for 3+ hours. as we were driving home, jake mentioned how great the diner sounded. 5 minutes later, we slid into the booths of our favorite restaurant and disregarded the early morning classes we had the next day. we put great songs on the juke box, sang along with the others that had the same mindset of ignoring the lack of sleep we’d be having, and had the best night. that night, to this day, was my favorite diner experience. not because we belted “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum obnoxiously and ate the best breakfast food (I’m a sucker for their cheeseburger omelets… they’re good). it was simply because i was dreading the idea of getting less than 6 hours of sleep, and it turned out to be the most special memory to me.
this doesn’t mean go across the world and have the most extravagant vacation, forcing everyone scrolling on instagram to nearly hate you because they “want to be you”. it doesn’t even have to be any sort of plane ride away. go on a road trip with your friends. i probably lucked out with this, being right in the middle of kansas city and st louis and having equal access to both those cities. but, if you have the ability to get in a car and drive to a new town or city to do something new or explore a new area, do it! or, spend the day simply exploring the city you live in. there’s so much about columbia that i haven’t even seen or experienced. don’t let the year fly by, then wonder why you never ate at the cute restaurant downtown or went to those trails on that pretty sunday.
10. step outside of your comfort zone
no, you don’t have to go to a university out-of-state to say you did something new. there are so many different opportunities to take advantage of on campus. join a club that sounds semi-interesting to you, or take a class simply because it sounds fun, or ask a friend of yours that you’re not totally close with to go to lunch! i could go on and on about ways to take advantage of the new things that you could try.
before college, i would’ve never accepted the fact that i would have to go get breakfast alone. i just thought it sounded like the most mortifying thing i could ever do to myself. now, i eat pretty much all my meals alone because i just love the quiet time. going to class all day, then work all afternoon, i get tired and not in the mood to talk to anyone… so a dinner where i can just sit on my phone and eat my food isn’t that bad to me. don’t be afraid go anywhere alone! (except walking back home from a party or anywhere when it’s late at night. just call the uber. it’s worth the $4)
9. never pass up the free food on campus
at mizzou during finals week, there is always something going on. free massages in the student center, playing with puppies at tiger plaza, or free hot box cookies at speakers circle- everywhere i turn there’s some new treat or activity they’re offering to us to help relieve us from all the stress the finals bring. don’t pass it up! if it’s free, take it. even if you’re not hungry, just take it. you won’t regret it.
8. uber will be your best friend
like i mentioned before, uber. it’s a beautiful thing. it’s easy to get carried away with it, because all those $4-$6 rides will add up. so use it wisely. but… if it’s pouring down rain and you have to walk to work all the way downtown, or if you just have the worst headache and you can’t bear walking home, then call the uber. 99% chance that you really will not wish you hadn’t.
7. go out
it’s freshman year and you are bound to go and socialize every once in a while. go to the frat parties with your friends. there is nothing wrong with dressing up, not only because it’s incredible rare in college, but also because there is nothing wrong with feeling good about yourself. put on some makeup and curl your hair! make it a fun night with your friends. get back at 1 am and order pizza and bread sticks for the heck of it.
6. take advantage of the dining hall food
i have a little over a week left, and i am already dreading how much I’m going to miss dining hall food. it’s really not that bad… or maybe it is, and i just try really hard to ignore that. but it will be a total change living in my apartment this summer and having to actually cook…? and clean? and grocery shop? it makes me tired thinking about all of that. i’d rather just pin cool recipes on pinterest that i’ll never end up making instead of actually having to make it.
5. decorate your room
all you hear when the people in college finish up their freshman year is that the money they spent on dorm room decorations was a total waste. but, i don’t regret it at all. i LOVED shopping for my dorm and color coordinating my roommates ideas. i spent many, many afternoons at target and hobby lobby buying small knick-knack things. and no, my dorm is nowhere near as clean as it was on my first day (my mom was way right on that one). but, it made my attitude about living in a dorm so much better because it was exciting to get to decorate my own half of the room. maybe i’m weird and some people could definitely think that having to move into a dorm and decorate it sounds absolutely terrible, but it made it a lot easier on me.
4. take pictures
i’m a huge advocate for pictures and instagram and making my friends pose (no matter how embarrassed they are) for pictures so i can document what i’m doing with them. i am one of those people who will spend so much time looking back at old pictures, and i’m a total hoarder when it comes to deleting pictures. i have over 10,000 pictures on my camera roll in my phone… that’s so excessive but i couldn’t even start choosing what i would want to delete, so they just keep adding up! but i get so happy when i go back and look at pictures from beginning of the year or even from high school because i remember everything about that moment during that picture!
3. call your parents
seriously couldn’t stress this enough. i text my parents more than call, but when i call or FaceTime them, it’s always a 2-3 hour conversation no matter what. it’s much easier talking to them rather than having to type everything, so i keep thinking of more and more things to tell them about when i see them face to face (or screen to screen?). but seriously, you don’t realize how great they are until you’re in college and your mom can’t make you eggs for breakfast, your dad isn’t there to fill up your gas tank when he takes your car, or your brother can’t bring you a water when you’re in bed and can’t (aka too lazy) get one yourself. for anyone still in high school, soak up the family dinners and the times you’re with your family. it’s a scary thought thinking about never living under the same roof as them anymore.
2. make the people around you feel loved
they don’t even have to do anything for you, tell someone you care about thanks for being a cool person! coming to school and pretty much starting from scratch, i have grown to be very thankful for the friends that i have made here. simply because they made my time so far the greatest i could ever imagine! tell someone you appreciate the little things they do so they know that who they are doesn’t go unnoticed.
i was at work today and my boss asked me to fold these new t-shirts we got, so i began doing so and she came by and just said “wow! you’re the best folder! thank you!” and it made me so happy?! that was a really weird story. but if you think something positive about someone, whether it be you like their outfit or noticed their new hair cut, tell them that! it will make them want to do more of what you complimented them. in my case, i wanted to spend the whole night folding shirts!
i’m not even kidding, my self-esteem sky rocketed because i felt appreciated for my folding skills.
if college doesn’t work out, at least i have folding.
1. it is what you make it
this is my ultimate piece of advice that every single person needs to know. you don’t even have to be going to college or having some new, radical experience going on in your life. it could be something as simple as going to your least favorite class. if you go into whatever you do with a negative attitude or outlook about it, you will not enjoy it. it is rare that you are proven wrong, but don’t just expect to be proven wrong in any circumstance. it won’t always turn out that way. i truly believe that if i would have come to college annoyed and sad and not finding the light in it, i would’ve had the worst experience. i probably would’ve ended up back at home because i would’ve hated it that much.
don’t get me wrong, it was tough to leave home behind. it’s the place that i am most comfortable in. coming home for breaks puts me back in my comfort zone, which isn’t always a bad thing. i couldn’t have wanted to grow up anywhere else with anyone else. i’m lucky i have a place that i love to call home. i’m lucky to get to come home to sweet friends that are just as pumped to see me as i am with them.
however, it was time for me to do something for me. and that something was coming to mizzou! and i don’t want anyone to think that i had the most glamorous, amazing, incredible time. there were nights that consisted of tears because i was stressed. and friendships that didn’t end up how i thought they would. last night, i had the absolute worst headache ever. it was so bad i had to take an uber home from the library because i physically couldn’t handle the walk home (example in how the excessive uber usage can do more harm than good….).
but, like i’ve said, please find the light in any situation that you come across when you start freshman year. it will make the year overall much better than you could have ever imagined.