As Dumbledore would say, “Another year–gone.” Yep, I’ve been back home for about a week now, and suddenly I’m faced with unpacking, the increasingly difficult realization that my friends aren’t a walk across campus away, a normal sleep schedule, and a whole lot of free time to think and reflect. What a year. Junior year was by far the most challenging and best year yet at college. It was an extremely difficult year with lots of personal, academic, and spiritual challenges. Overall, though, it was the year of a lot of personal growth that I am so incredibly grateful for. 🙂 I’ve learned a lot–a lot of things the hard way, and others a bit more gracefully.
So with that, here are five life lessons I’ve learned from this school year that I want to share with you:
1. Take care of yourself. Truly. It’s very important. Eat healthily, don’t skip meals, exercise, and yes, sometimes all-nighters are necessary, but sleep well as much as you can. More importantly, sometimes with all the pressures of college, people can entirely neglect their emotional and spiritual health, too. If you’re having problems, it’s okay to seek out counseling, spiritual direction, or call a friend at midnight needing to talk. Don’t be afraid to ask people to pray for you. Also, don’t be afraid to let go of toxic friendships. This is also a two-way street: don’t take care of others so much that you neglect to take care of yourself. Balance is key.
2. Remember that most of the time, everyone is just doing the best they can–including YOU. Be patient with people. Be quick to love and forgive. Be slow to judge. Give people second chances (wisely, of course). Actually ask how people are doing, and if they respond with some litany of “busy, tired, stressed,” (or the even funnier what they are doing answer: “I have a seven-page paper due at midnight,”), ask them again. Listen. Smile. And love. And the same goes for you: if you are too tired or emotionally drained to finish your Anthropology reading, the world won’t end. Not every paper can be your best paper. Your GPA doesn’t define you. Sometimes things going on in your personal life need to take precedence over your school work. Just keep chugging through. And don’t be afraid. You’ve got this–more than you know. 🙂
3. Sometimes, that two-hour life chat with your friend at Starbucks is more important than your homework. It’s true. Yes, you may lose a little extra sleep, but people are more important sometimes. Be there for people, and be present with the people that you are with, rather than half-listening while texting your boyfriend and mentally making a to-do list of what you’re going to do after the conversation with your friend. Social media can wait. Live in the moment, and cherish your friendships, because they are so precious in college. And have the important conversations, the conversations that matter–don’t play the Who’s Busier/More Sleep-Deprived/More Stressed Out Game. Which leads to…
4. Don’t stress: everything happens for a reason. Yes, it’s the cliché of all clichés that people don’t want to hear when things are seemingly crashing and burning. But it’s true. Everything indeed has a way of working itself out. And yes, one day you will look back and see that things all made sense. But sometimes, you need a healthy dose of perspective. Life is incredibly hard in today’s world. But things will get better–they always do. When you feel stressed, remember to breathe, count your blessings, laugh, and focus on the bigger picture. Which finally brings me to…
5. Trust in God. Bring everything to Him. I made a new rule for myself this semester that I wouldn’t tell my family or friends more about what was going on in my life than what I was telling God about my life. It’s incredibly difficult to trust in God and actually trust in Him rather than thinking you are when you are simultaneously trying to control every aspect of your life (yep, learned that one the hard way). Take time to pray or meditate or have alone time every day. God has beautiful plans for us. Put your life–every project, exam, friendship trouble, walk to class, relationship issue, award you win, happy times with friends–in His hands and allow Him to love you–because you are so worthy of His love. He carries you through difficulties and walks by your side holding your hand always. When you truly trust Him, your life will shift: everything becomes a little clearer, and peace and true joy can overflow your heart.
God Bless and Sweet Dreams,