Not to be cliche, but today marks the end of a big chapter in my life. I am (finally!) graduating from NC State University. It’s been a hard four years, but I can honestly say that I’ve grown up from the person I was when I first set foot on this campus. I’ve been through good and bad, and through it all, I’ve learned a lot of things that have helped me figure out who I am and what I want and I wanted to share those things. I’m still figuring both of those out, actually, but that’s okay.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes & take chances
This is something that I had trouble with for the longest time and still do occasionally. It comes with the territory of having a Type A personality – you want control, and to know that things will work out a certain way. But I’ve learned the hard way that if you stay in your little bubble, then you’re not really living – perfection does not exist. You might be protecting yourself from failure or pain on the chance that something will go badly, but at what cost? People, myself included, focus too much on the “what ifs” instead of living and just figuring it out. Sure, things might not happen the way you want them to, relationships might not last, people might disappoint you, but you’ll never know until you try. And going into things with the mindset that they’ll fail is setting yourself up for that failure. Things happen, you live, you learn and you figure it out from there.
Do what makes YOU happy
This is another thing that I have a hard time with. I’m always so focused on being good enough, or making other people happy and compromising at the expense of my own happiness. That’s not always a bad thing, but when it becomes a recurrent pattern, it sucks. You end up regretting things and not doing what you want. What’s right for you is relative to you and no one else. You’re the only one living your life, so make sure you enjoy it. If others judge you, that’s their problem. Be yourself, not what others want you to be. Don’t be someone you’re not.
Demand respect and give it right back
You are fantastic and unique and special even if you don’t believe it. Don’t waste time on people who treat you like crap, or make you feel horrible about yourself. They aren’t worth it, and if they don’t appreciate you for who you are, then you don’t need them in your life. Focus on friendships and relationships that make you grow as a person and improve yourself. And don’t treat others badly. Remember that golden rule we learned all the way back in preschool? Yeah, be mindful of that.
Don’t regret anything
You will make mistakes. Come on, we’re 18-22 years old – that’s basically our job description. Be okay with those mistakes and don’t beat yourself up over them. People come into your lives for a reason. Things happen for a reason. I’ve done some pretty dumb things, but I don’t regret them because they’ve shaped who I am and what/how I think. Just like I said way earlier in this post, you live and you learn. Take something away from your past, don’t dwell in it.
It’s ok to be lost
If I you had told me four years ago what my life would be like at this point, I never would have believed you. As most college kids do, I changed my career goals about a gazillion times. I started out wanting to do forensic science, and then life happened and now I’ve decided to go into nutrition. And you know what? I’m actually passionate about it. It took me four years to find something I felt that way about, but it happened. Life is not a straight path, and you shouldn’t expect it to be. I’ve come a long way from the person I was four years ago, I have no idea where exactly I’ll be a year from now, and I’m 100% okay with it. It’s part of growing up.
Try new things
If I never tried new things, I would not have this blog. New experiences led me to finding something I love, and it’s all because I stepped out of my comfort zone. It’s scary, but worth it.
Enjoy being single
Yeah, it’s nice to have someone to cuddle with at the end of the day, but you know what’s also nice? Girls nights, Netflix and cookies. And not to mention not worrying about impressing someone else! Falling in love for real is a great thing, but don’t waste your time settling for something superficial just for the sake of having it. We as a generation are so hellbent on instant gratification that we forget to slow down and look at what’s honestly good for us. Plus, being single helps you focus on yourself, and since this is such a whacked-out time for us in our lives, that’s really important.
There’s not a right time for everything
We also put too much emphasis on having the perfect moment, where all the stars align and everything is finally right with the world. News Flash: It doesn’t always happen this way. There will never be a perfect time for something to happen. Don’t set your expectations too high, just let things unfold. If you try and wait for perfect conditions to act on your thoughts or feelings, you’ll miss out on some great opportunities and end up waiting too long.
Don’t take people for granted
We have all been on both sides of this issue, myself included. Cherish the people in your life. Be grateful for your family and friends because of the support they’ve given you and the fun times you’ve shared. Treat them with honesty and respect and they’ll do the same.
So that’s it. Thanks to everyone who has been there along the way, for better or for worse. Life is life. It’s beautiful and scary and sad and frustrating, but it’s ours.