You guys. I GRADUATED! Part of me feels like these past four years have flown by, but it also seems like I've been in college forever. Nevertheless, I sure am glad to be DONE!
The past four years of college have been a roller coaster. It had it's ups and its downs, but overall I have grown from it and learned a lot along the way. For those of you that may not know or are wondering: I graduated with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies K-6, which is just a fancy name for Elementary Education. I couldn't be more excited and blessed to be going into a career that I love, and have the opportunity to work for my dream school system in the Fall!
After reflecting on the past four years of my life, I've realized the lessons I've learned, and the things that God has taught me along the way. I feel as though I am a completely different person than I was four years ago, or even a year ago for that matter. College was a season of growth, change, and stepping out in faith. Nevertheless, here are some of the life lessons I've learned over the past four years, and advice I have to those of you that are beginning your college career.
1. Stop Caring So Much About What Other People Think
My entire life, all of my decisions have revolved around what others might think. There have been things I have wanted to do or be apart of so badly, but I skipped out because of others opinions. The truth is, there is only one person who's opinion matters, and that person is Jesus. Don't let the noise of the world drown out your own inner voice. You can't please everybody, so why try? The Bible says:
"It is dangerous to be concerned with what other people think of you." Proverbs 29:25
When we are centering our lives on the opinions of the world rather than living for God, we are setting ourselves up for failure. If you feel as though God is calling you to do something, step out in faith! Start the ministry. Change your major. Write the blog. Start the Youtube Channel. Whatever it may be, don't let what other people think the main deciding factor over your life.
2. Let Go & Let God Lead
Right up until I began college, I had NO idea what I wanted to do with my life. Honestly, I either wanted to be a dolphin trainer at SeaWorld, or work for the Mouse. (still not opposed to either of those!) However, one day it hit me: I'm going to be a Teacher. I was scared and unsure, but felt a strong call that this was God's will for my life. Throughout these past four years, I let go and let God lead. I put full trust in His plans, and seeing what He has done has left me in complete awe. I wish I could write a whole blog post on the doors He has opened, and the challenges He has helped me overcome these past 4 years. I feel like God has just laid everything out so perfectly, and I never had a single issue or worry. Now, I have been led to work in my dream school district. So if you are stressed and worried about the future, rest in the peace and comfort that God IS in control. His plans will prevail, but we must first seek his will and fully trust him.
For I know the plans for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
3. Find a Hobby & Follow Your Passions
In college especially, it is so important to have an outlet where you are able to create or do something you love. (BTW, Instagram, Netflix, and shopping aren't hobbies.) College is usually a stressful time in most peoples lives, and it is important to find something that you love to do in order to unwind, whether is be a form of exercise (lol), a creative outlet, or reading- we all need something we can look forward to at the end of the day in order to unwind and recharge.
4. Friends Come & Go
Throughout college, I have so many memories with friends I've met through classes, work, and church. However, my friend group from freshman year was not the same friend group my sophomore year. My friend group sophomore year was not the same friend group my junior year, etc. I've had a few core friendships that have lasted through college, and I know that we will be friends for life. However, many of my friends were only in my life for a short period of time. My point is, it's okay if your friend groups change. Some people come into your life for a reason, and some come only for a season.
5. Live In the Present
I am SO guilty of looking to the future and forgetting to appreciate my current season of life. When I was in middle school, I couldn't wait until high school. In high school, college was all I thought about. As someone who is graduating college, now all I can think about is my next stage in life. We need to stop "wishing our lives away" and appreciate the current season we are in. Because one day, we will look back on those memories and probably want to go back to that time in our lives. As someone who is itching to finally move out of her parents house, I know one day I will sorely miss it. While most of my friends seem to be getting married, it is often hard to appreciate singleness. So instead of always looking forward to the future, let's stop and appreciate the current season of life. God has a reason and a plan for every season.
6. Be Grateful & Appreciate the Little Things
As Americans especially, we are constantly after the latest and greatest; whether that be the latest iPhone, nicer car, or trendy clothes. Since downsizing, simplifying, and learning to appreciate the little things, I've become a whole lot more aware of God's blessings in my life. Chances are, if you're reading this, you're richer than 95% of the worlds population. We have so much to be thankful for, and it is so easy to be distracted from that. It's often the little things we take for granted, but in the end, the little things are really the big things.
7. Get a Part-Time Job
Personally, I think working a part time job in college is one of the best decisions you could make, regardless if you have free housing, a meal plan, etc. Having a part time job in college teaches you punctuality, creates in you a work ethic, and looks better on your resume than the fact that you took x amount of honors classes and had a 3.9 GPA. Also, there is a sense of pride that comes from being able to pay for things yourself, rather than constantly asking your parents for money. It also will help you get your first post-grad job down the road. Many employers won't take a second look at your resume if your right out of college and never worked a day in your life.
I was lucky enough to basically work my dream job (aside from Disney world) throughout college. I LOVED going to work each day, and my job in college was the highlight of my college experience. I made friends for life, and my part-time job in college helped get my foot in the door for the school district I've dreamt of working for. So get a job!! You'll have extra $$$, and it will benefit you in so many ways.
8. Set Goals & Prioritize
Obviously, having a social life is a huge part of the college experience. However, you don't need to (and shouldn't) overload yourself with an unmanageable amount of time commitments. Prioritizing is essential. Take the time to compile a list of your goals, priorities, and relationships you want to invest in. (Ex: Graduate in 4 years, working towards my degree, spend time with family, & my faith.) Then, make a list of all time commitments throughout the week. Any commitments that don't align with your priorities- cut out. It's OKAY to say no! If you are constantly running from one thing to the next, you will end up burned out, miserable, and will lose sight of your goals. Simplicity is key, and taking time for yourself is SO important.
9. Gaining the Freshman 15 is not the end of the world
You would think as an incoming college freshman, the biggest thing I would be worried about would be making new friends, deciding on my major, etc. However, my biggest fear and the thing I stressed out about most….was gaining the dreaded Freshman 15. I feel like all I heard my senior year of high school was "beware the freshman 15!!" I'm here to say that as much as I stressed out about it, it still happened. I then let losing the freshman 15 become my priority. Not school, not my relationship with God, not my family. Everyone has their own insecurities, and I'll admit: I sure am jealous of people with fast metabolisms! However, don't let your distorted body image take over your life. Recognize that your identity is rooted in the truth of the Gospel and not the approval of man. You have value and worth because of who you are in Christ- not because of a number on the scale.
I am so thankful to my Family, Friends, mentors, and God for guiding me through these past 4 years.