Milestones are a big deal for me. Someone I love is having a birthday? Cue the lengthy, sentimental Facebook post, and the dorkiest photos I can find of us together. It’s a holiday? My camera roll ends up filled with photos of the event, because I want to make sure I don’t forget it years from now. As a writer and lover of all things artistic, I believe in the importance of memories and reflection.
It’s no surprise that as I’m finishing out my second year of college, I feel like I’m bursting with words about the experience. No, it’s not as new and exciting as concluding my freshman year, and granted, I felt way more adjusted at college this year, but I still feel like I’ve learned a lot. Each year of college (and life) brings about change, (good and bad) and I think it’s important to acknowledge those changes.
Here are ten things my sophomore year of college taught me.
Being alone isn’t a bad thing.
I’m an introvert, through and through. Though, as my favorite English professor told me, she is a “trained extrovert” and I’ve found myself struggling/learning to find a balance between extroversion and introversion. In our society, there’s something taboo about being alone. Eating alone, walking alone, spending time by yourself – there’s some kind of notion out there that doing things alone means you’re a “loser,” that you “don’t have friends,” or you “have way too much time on your hands.”
We live in a culture of staying busy, surrounding ourselves with people 24/7, and constant stimulation. It’s difficult to combat that, especially if you’re consistently surrounded by extroverts, which make up most of our population. Often times, I don’t have the energy for social interaction, especially if I’ve spent the entire day interacting with people, which most of the time, I do.
So I’ve learned that despite the weird associations people make with it, being alone isn’t something to feel ashamed of. It’s okay to take a break when you need one, to take as many breaks from socializing as you need. You’re not weird for that – you’re just listening to what your body and mind needs.
The reality of growing up is that making mistakes is inevitable, no matter how put together you think your life is.
As you get older, you will lose and gain friendships.
Personally, I find it difficult to maintain a multitude of friendships. Going back to the whole being introverted thing, I prefer a close-knit group of friends, one-on-one time, or small group gatherings. I don’t keep up with more than 4 friends from high school, and even then I’ll go months without texting with them. I used to feel incredibly guilty about losing friends, because I thought something was wrong with me. But I realized that it’s perfectly normal to lose and gain friendships as you grow older, because we’re all growing. Needs and circumstances change, and that’s okay.
Own up to your mistakes.
This year, I messed up a lot. In small ways, and in large ways, and I learned some pretty tough lessons along the way. I took my mistakes to heart – since I always considered myself to be the kind of person who had everything organized and in order – and making mistakes felt like major pitfalls.
The reality of growing up is that making mistakes is inevitable, no matter how put together you think your life is. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you human. But when you do mess up, be sure to own it and make it right in whatever way you know how.
The sophomore slump is a very real thing.
My freshman year of college felt so new and exciting. Here I was, fresh out of high school, in a completely new place with a bunch of new people. The concept of college was thrilling: I could come and go whenever I wanted, with whomever I wanted. I was in a new place that was loaded with nature, so there were so many adventures to go on and sights to discover. I was filled with the excitement of new possibilities, ready to take on the year. Everything about freshman year felt like that for me – scary, new, incredible.
Sophomore year felt a little bit different: all the newness had gone away.
But sophomore year felt a little bit different: all the newness had gone away. My school is small, so new faces became faces I saw everyday, and I had already discovered all the cool places to go on campus. I found myself missing my family a whole lot, and I was overwhelmed with work that I didn’t have freshman year. I had lost touch with some of the friends I had, and it felt like college wasn’t so exciting anymore.
So, I’m here to confirm that the sophomore slump is a very real thing: and that is okay. Once I got past my sophomore slump, I realized that nothing is ever going to be quite like my first year of college, but that there’s still so much more to look forward to regardless.
Feel your emotions in a healthy way.
I’m someone who is incredibly emotional. Sometimes I have a hard time dealing with, and expressing them in a healthy way. What has helped me is journaling, talking, and therapy. What I’ve learned about dealing with my emotions is how to cope with them in a way that doesn’t project on others. I live in a shared space, so when I’m having a tough day it’s hard not to put that negative energy out into my world, but I’ve figured out how to express my feelings through the things I love the most: art and writing.
This one seems like common sense, but it’s probably one of the most important things I’ve learned from this year at college. Forgive even when you don’t get the apology you think you deserve, and forgive when you do. And mostly? Forgive yourself. You deserve more than you think.