College marks a coming of age. Breaking free from the parental grip, making your own judgment calls, and taking accountability for your actions - gulp. It's an exciting time filled with celebrations (for every reason imaginable... literally), late night cram sessions, and finding your independence. Not everything you pick up during your college years is learned in class, though. Many lessons learned are taught outside of school hours.
1. You Are the President of Your Fan Club
Where high school and junior high are times filled with fitting in, peer pressure and the "awkward years" (braces and acne - ugh), college is a time of self-discovery and confidence. You become much more comfortable with pulling out that rusty word "no" from your vocabulary toolbox, and you find the hobbies you truly love. Screw the haters!
Your major makes you feel like you belong, and your opinion matters. You don't care if you still like rocking a Domo t-shirt while others are into Bebe. But most important, you learn to love the person staring back at you in the mirror. Embrace that individuality, girl!
2. The Definition of an "All-Nighter"
All-Nighter: noun. An event or task that continues throughout the night, especially when you waited until the last possible minute to put together your 20-page paper that's due tomorrow for 35 percent of your grade. Sadly, if you think these magically dissipate in your professional years, you are so wrong.
All-nighters are the definition of evil because beauty sleep flies out the window. Here's the thing, you learn how to work under pressure during this nightmare - figuratively, because you AREN'T SLEEPING. But when you do finish that project or studying for the big exam, you feel good. You know, like you accomplished something because of your hard work.
3. Coffee is a Godsend
If you think coffee is a dark brown liquid made from garbage water, think again. It's a mystic elixir that flawlessly harnesses the energy you so desperately need to glide through the morning. OK, maybe not glide… more like trudge through with urgency.
Coffee quickly becomes your BFF once you get that acquired taste. Heck, you might even work yourself up to three cups a day. Warning: once you get into the coffee fad, it's hard to get out of it. This stuff is so easily adaptable to French vanilla, cinnamon bun and pumpkin spice flavors that you'll never be able to let it go. Welcome to adulthood. Praise be to coffee.
4. Failing Isn't Failure
There's a difference between failing and failure. Failure means a lack of success. Failing means trying your absolute best and not having things work out in your favor. You learn a lesson from failing, and you work harder to not achieve the same outcome again.
Sometimes things just aren't going to go in your direction. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you will come up short on an assignment and not get the grade you wanted on a big exam. But this is about getting back up on the horse and trying again. If you succeeded all of the time, you wouldn't learn anything. Spoiler alert: this happens in the work world, too. Failing isn't always a bad thing if you take something positive away from it.
5. Adopting a "My Bad" Mentality
People mess up. We're human. But are you pointing your finger and punting off the responsibility, or are you owning it? Some people find it very hard to say the simple phrase, "Guys, I dropped the ball. It won't happen again." But you actually gain more respect from your team when you do because you're being an accountable adult.
And because you're an adult now, that means hiding in your room under the safety of your comforter no longer applies here. Apologize, learn from it and move on. It's a great life lesson that stays with you forever.
6. How to Play Nicely
Negotiation is the key word here. You are going to have group mates, sorority sisters and roommates (dun dun DUN) who you'll have to deal with every day. They aren't always going to like what you have to say or what you want to do.
You don't want to spend your entire college career alone, right? So you have to learn the art of negotiation. For example, if everyone wants to go to the new Mexican place for dinner and you're the only one that wants to grab Italian, it's probably better to go with the flow rather than rowing upstream. Mention that next time you'd like to go to your favorite spot and the group will likely be open to it. This is life, you can't always get your way - even if you stomp loudly and pout your heart out.
7. Good Friends are Hard to Come By
You've heard the saying, "If you can count your true friends on one hand, you're a lucky person," right? You likely looked at the person who said it with a raised eyebrow though because you had a ton of friends growing up.
When you get to college, you'll learn that not everyone is as reliable or trustworthy as you thought. Who's the buddy that's going to sit up all night with you as you cry your heart out about that hot guy that never called you back? And who can you share all of your intimate details with who won't spill the beans? The people that consistently step up to the plate are the ones you start focusing most of your attention on. The others are still fun, but they aren't your sisters from another mister.
8. How to Mend a Broken Heart
Everybody hurts when playing the game of love in college. There's the hottie who takes you out once and never calls again. Or that guy you date a couple months and pulls the ol' ghosting routine. It sucks. Period.
Instead of lying face down on your bed blasting My Chemical Romance while swearing off men like you did in your younger years, you'll learn to bounce back faster and less dramatically. Yeah, you're still gong to have that chick flick marathon night while pounding down an entire box of bonbons, but it won't last as long. There are other fish in the sea, as cliché as it sounds, and you'll learn that you deserve to be with someone who wants to be with you.
9. Time is Precious (and Regimented)
Oh yes, I'm talking about time management. A big lesson you'll learn in college is that your professors do not care about a single thing you care about - like not at all. It sounds great and grand to pull a Ferris Bueller's Day Off situation, but the only one it hurts is you. The professor won't send a search party or give you a lecture about not showing up. They're just going to give you the grade you earned.
In life, things happen the same way. Your boss isn't going to show up at your home or call your parents if you bail. You're just going to be held responsible for the work you missed. And if you don't perform, you still get an "F" but this time for fired. College teaches you about work/life balance, and also makes you plan. We all stumble in the beginning but once you get your footing, it's not so bad.
10. Mom and Dad are Pretty Awesome
Remember those squares who lived in your house telling you what to do all the time (eye roll)? Turns out they're putting in much more work behind the scenes than you thought. Turns out free and delicious dinners, freshly pressed laundry, a clean home, and getting your stuff sans debt is a pretty good deal, right? Yes. It. Is.
When you're on your own, all of that stuff goes bye bye. Sub that made-with-love meatloaf for processed Ramen noodles, and Beef Stroganoff for that gelatinous concoction that should be spaghetti and meatballs... was it moving at one point? You find a new appreciation for the parental unit, and actually find yourself wanting to kick it with them although you never thought it was possible. Give your parents a big hug because they are pretty darn cool when push comes to shove. And they always have your back.
Graduating into Adulthood
A college degree is worth much more than the credits you earn. Gaining experience in everything from reliability to time management and parental appreciation brings their own value when shaping the important adult you are morphing into. You know, the best-selling author/Nobel Peace Prize winner type of adult. But also remember to cherish this time because it goes by faster than Usain Bolt in a 400-yard dash.