9 Life Lessons Learned in College

Good morning, y’all! Right now I’m sitting here on a Saturday enjoying the rest of my sparkling white grape juice from the night before while knocking out a ton of blogging related stuff. I was going through a bunch of my old posts looking for some inspiration because lately, I’ve been straight out of inspo. I came across a post I wrote in the fall of 2015 called “5 Things I’ve Learned Since Being in College.” Reading through that list, it really reminded me of how much college has changed in shaped me in ways I never thought possible.

College is more than just what happens in the classroom.

If you’re just starting out in college, or you’re almost done, there’s so much college teaches you about yourself, the world, and others. Today, I wanted to share my updated version of all of the marvelous things college has taught me.

Adults Have No Idea What They’re Doing Either

This by far has been my biggest realization. You know how we are all wandering around in life just hoping we figure things out, and we’re all super jealous of those people who have it all “figured out?” Well I can almost guarantee you that they have no idea what they’re doing either. The people who look like they’ve got it all figured out really don’t. They just fake it very well. As the saying goes, fake it ‘till you make it.

Mental Health is SO Important

I CANNOT stress this enough. If you’re not happy inside your own head, you’re not going to be happy anywhere else. You may try to cover up that unhappiness with drinking, sleeping, partying, or just trying to forget about it, but that is not okay. I went through my own struggle with depression my freshman year of college, and let me tell you, it was awful. I’ve never wanted to just lay in bed all day and do nothing and see no one more in my entire life. Until I started focusing time on myself, doing things for myself, and realizing that I can’t live my life by limiting what I do based on other people, I was miserable.

Please, if you’re feeling lost or confused or frustrated with your current situation, take a self-care day. Set aside a night (I particularly like Fridays), grab a bottle of sparkling grape juice or wine if you’re of age, put on a face mask, paint your nails, and watch your favorite movie in your comfiest of PJs.

That might sound crazy, but I do it on the regular, and it really helps me just get away for a few hours and truly be content and happy. Forget the assignments, forget the boys, forget the blog, forget “living it up” for social media. Forget it all. Focus on yourself. Make yourself happy. Please. Maybe you’re not a pampering kind of girl, so go take yourself on some dates around your city. One of my blogging BFFs Caitlyn wrote an AMAZING post on how taking herself on dates has truly improved her mental health and personal confidence.

Some Friends Aren’t For Forever

I know when I first came to college, I thought everyone I met was going to be my new best friend. From my roommate to my suite mates to my floor mates. I thought I’d be BFFs with all of them. WRONG. The first few weeks of college, everyone is trying to be buddy-buddy with everyone because you’re all in the same place – lonely, homesick, overwhelmed, and confused. About a month in, people’s true colors will begin to shine and you’ll start to realize that.

For me, I never developed a solid friend group my freshman year. In all honesty, freshman year was probably the worst year of my life. I was so unhappy, my floor was the worst, and I was all alone at this big school with no one to really talk to. You may think you’re friends with someone because you get along super well and you have the same classes and you live on the same floor. You’ll talk every day, eat every meal together, and spend a lot of your time together. But then summer break comes, you slowly stop talking, and then by the fall, you don’t even know each other. Some friends aren’t forever. Some friends are there only out of convince. And that, that is okay.

But Some Friends Are

You’ll know when you meet a group of people and you just click.

Sometimes it takes a while to find your group, and that’s okay. It took me an entire year to find people who get me, support me, and laugh at me when I do something stupid. I’ve never been the kind of person who has tons of friends, or even the kind of person that hangs out with people on a regular basis. I mean, hello, I’m a blogger who goes to bed by 10 pm and would rather stay in with her cat, watch 10 Things I Hate About You, and drink a nice cup of tea instead of going out and getting turnt every weekend.

Abigail, why did you post a picture of yourself when you’re talking about friends?? One of my BFFLs took this picture, okay. I promise it’s relevant lol

This year I found those people. The people who make fun of me for my grandma-ness and my obsession with health and fitness. The people who I can have nerdy computer conversations with and they just get me. The people who will wake up early with me on a Saturday to go to the farmer’s market and have impromptu photoshoots on the Horseshoe (peep the picture above). To those people, if you’re reading this, I am forever grateful.

Difficult Situations are the Best Learning Experiences

Difficult situations suck. They just do. Whether it be complications at work, struggles in classes, or failing friendships, difficult situations are never fun. But, difficult situations are where you grow the most.

My friends and I faced a very difficult situation back in December. It was a situation where I wasn’t sure we’d all make it out as friends. But, on the contrary, because we all went through it together and we were all there for each other, it brought us together. We’re now closer than ever and I now know that I’ll be friends with them for life. So, embrace those difficult situations, try your hardest to find the positive in the situation, and you’ll grow exponentially from it.

A 4.0 Isn’t the Dream

This one I’ve struggled with a lot. Well, I struggled with it more so in the fall when I was adjusting to actually having a social life, the demands of my job, and the desire to hit the gym on a daily basis. Over the year, I’ve learned that being happy and enjoying life is more important than that 4.0. I had to have a little pep talk with myself and drill into my head that A’s and B’s are great and there’s more to college than just class.

You Do You and the Friends Will Come

I feel like this one and the next go hand in hand. I don’t care if you’re nervous to go to an event by yourself or scared to do things alone because we’ve all been there. Maybe there’s a concert you really want to go see but none of your friends want to go. Maybe you love working out but none of your friends ever want to go to the gym with you or they’re constantly giving you a hard time about how much you dedicate to fitness and healthy eating. Maybe there’s a comedian coming to campus that you really want to go see, but your friends don’t.

See a pattern here?

Friends do not define who you are and what you do. The best thing I EVER did was throw my nervousness aside and start doing the things I enjoy doing. Trust me, the more you follow your passions, you’ll find people who love to do the same things. And boom. Instant friends.

Figure Yourself Out First

I’ve been a big believer in this ever since high school, and it’s about to get a little deep here. This one is more about relationships and not getting involved with someone else until you truly know who you are, what you love, and what you want. There’s nothing worse than giving your heart to someone who has yet to become comfortable with themselves and is unable to give you 100% of themselves because they don’t know who they are.

Explore everything – activities, classes, relationships, friends, foods. Find out what makes you happy. Figure out what you’re looking for in life. Follow your passions, find a hobby, and be proud of yourself.

Focus on Your Health

You’re only young once. You only get one chance at this life, so do yourself a favor and start investing time in yourself. Go to the gym. Learn to cook. Start eating your vegetables. Add fruit into your diet. Make your health a priority.

Every minute you spend investing time into your health is another minute that you’ll thank yourself later.

Meet the brother.

Try Everything

I’m pretty sure this sums up just about everything in this post. College is a time to explore. College is a time to try new things. College is a time to make mistakes. And most of all, college is a time to learn valuable life lessons.

Go to that painting class. Go to that concert. Go to that play. Go to the farmers market. Explore the city where you go to school. Meet new people. Soak it all in because in four short (and yes they are very short) years you’ll be walking across that stage wearing a cap and gown replaying every second from your college experience.

Make your college years ones you look back on and say “wow I’m so glad I did that” and not “wow I wish I would’ve done that.”‘

Call your parents

Enough said right there.

~abigail gray

  • These are all such great lessons! I’m really just starting to learn that adults have no idea what they’re doing either. All throughout college, I was under the impression that post-grad adulting would be simple. However, it has proven to be the most difficult leg of my journey so far. I have no idea what I’m doing, and it sometimes makes me feel terrible about myself. But, I’m slowly learning that everyone feels like that. Knowing that we’re all in the same boat really puts me at ease!

    • I’m so glad you liked the post! It’s been sitting in my “to-post” folder for a while, and I’ve been hesitant about posting it because of how personal it gets in some places, but I’m so glad I did!

  • Yes, yes, yes! I totally agree with these 100%. College has been such a wonderful learning experience, and I love the way you articulated all of these lessons. I have two more years left, and I’m excited to see what else I learn. Thank you for sharing this post, I loved it!
    – katrina // Yours Truly, Katrina

  • Yes, yes, yes! I agree with every single one of these 100%. College can be one of the best experiences ever, but you need to do it for yourself! We have to stop trying to please everyone else. Like you said, you do you and the friends will come! The people who matter will hang on to you no matter what happens.

    • This is so true in every aspect of life. From college to work to relationships. You can’t keep hanging on to people who aren’t investing the same amount of time and effort you are.

  • Angela Brichetto Lussow

    No matter your age, every day is a new adventure with its own challenges, frustrations and wins. The win here is you pushed aside that hesitancy and put yourself out there which allows others to understand that this is a normal part of life and they too will be encouraged to push themselves. It can be SO hard, awful, and scary but if you don’t challenge yourself you get stuck. Proud of you! aa

  • Y E S to all of this! A huge, extra loud “YES!” to #1. After being the “adult” in certain situations and observing plenty of professional adults I’ve seriously learned that no one knows what they’re doing. It’s totally comforting and also scary, but it’s something I’ve definitely learned in college!
    paige / eyeliner wings & pretty things

  • Mental health is a BIG lesson I learned in college. Back in high school, I use to hustle and never stopped once to check in with myself about how I’m truly feeling. However when you’re in college and a lot of independence and responsibility is thrown at you at once, that method doesn’t work too well anymore. I’ve learned that it’s okay to stop and take a mental health day. There shouldn’t be any shame in taking care of yourself before taking care of others and other things. A happy you is a better you.

    Great post! I love the honesty in all the lessons you’ve learned.

    -Kim 🙂

  • The whole adults don’t know what they’re doing thing is one of the most important things I have ever learned! One of the pieces of advice I always give people is to remember that every one just BSes everything in life.

    Also, thanks for the mini shoutout!! 🙂

  • You have plenty of time before college! Seriously at this point in your life, don’t stress about it. Enjoy your time in high school while you can!

  • “Adults have no idea what they’re doing either” That was my first realization when I set my foot on college :p