Take a look at yourself now. Compare that self to yourself five years ago. Hopefully, some things have changed.
They say if you leave college the same way you went in, you did something wrong.
This concept shouldn't stop with college, though. Every day, we are learning, growing, changing. We learn everything from dealing with spilled milk to dealing with the death of a loved one. Where ever this learning occurs does not matter; what matters is that we are learning.
Thinking about my 18 year old self seems like both forever ago and just yesterday. But, when I think about everything that's happened in those five years, it is quite a handful. Yeah, I've always been a happy-go-lucky girl who has great friends and plays softball, but I have definitely grown up. Five years ago, the thought of going away to school was slightly terrifying. Now, I'm considering graduate school even further away. Five years ago, I could confidently navigate myself around a 20 mile radius in North Jersey. Now, I'm mastering the Turnpike and Garden State Parkway (though I still get lost sometimes). Five years ago, I was blissfully unaware of the diversity that comes from meeting new people and going new places. Now, the people and places that have come into my life have influenced me and inspired me to be who I am today.
So maybe now, I'm able to cut the cord from Mommy and Daddy, drive up and down the good old state of New Jersey, and have diversity in my back pocket. But that's only the surface.
I invite (and encourage) you to think about how you got to be who you are today. Hopefully, the reasons are mostly good. Some are bound to be bad, and that's okay.
Think about the people that make you happy day after day. Keep them around.
Think about the places that inspire you to travel and learn. Go there again and try new places too.
Think about the days you inspired someone else. Do it again. And again. And again.
Think about it all.
Be thankful for these experiences. They've shaped you into being "you".
Five years may seem like a long time. But when you're not thinking about it as a matter of time, but as a matter of experiences, it puts it into a whole different perspective.
College teaches you a lot. Yeah, I go to classes and yeah, I learn from those classes. But, the things I learned OUTSIDE of the classroom is more than anything I could have imagined.
1. Make yourself comfortably uncomfortable. This could be applied to almost everything. Step outside of your comfort zone. Go talk to someone. Or maybe just smile at them. Maybe this person wanted to talk to you, but they were just too nervous to do so. You never know what doors this could open for you.
2. Buy a planner and fill it up. I know this sounds like the headline of a freshmen orientation brochure, but it's so true on so many levels. On the most literal level, it keeps you organized. Organization is absolutely key in college and in life. On the next level, making yourself busy each day teaches you tons. Time management is a skill many people do not have, but is something that is SO crucial. Master it.
3. Work Hard, Play Hard. Go to class. Duh. Go to work. Duh. Do homework, go to meetings, blah blah blah. BUT - HAVE FUN! Spend time with friends. Although college is predominantly about getting a degree, some of the people you meet in college are going to be in your life forever. I've met my bridesmaids in college, and if I didn't purposefully make time to spend with them, I would be walking down an aisle with no girls in cheesy dresses next to me. Laugh with your friends. Go out with them. Create memories.
4. Sleep. At night. Refer to #2. You'll need it. Stay away from naps. Typically, you'll wake up sleepy and confused thinking it's 6am, not knowing what day it is.
5. Say "YES". Some of the most beneficial things I'm involved in at Rowan are the things I had NO idea what they were. Example - my graduate school thing. If I didn't blindly go into this organization, I would not be going to grad school. Say "yes" when you're unsure, when you think you might not have enough time, when you're nervous. You won't regret it.
6. Say "NO". Sometimes, we need to learn when to say "no" too. This is actually something I'm STILL, as an almost-23-year-old, working on. Although helping people is awesome and getting involved is important, don't completely overload yourself.
7. Find an outlet. This is something else I'm still working on. Stress happens. People get overwhelmed. It's natural. What's important is to find a way to deal with that stress. Sometimes, it might unfortunately mean crying on my boyfriend's shoulder as I pathetically utter words he can barely understand. I'm trying to steer away from doing this. His shirts get wet and booger-y. It's gross. I'm learning that writing is actually very helpful. Or working out. Maybe your outlet for stress isn't writing or exercise. Whatever it is, find it, and use it.
8. Treat yourself. You deserve it. If this means treating yourself to an ice cream cone on the way out of the Cafe, do it. Maybe it's just having a relaxing night in. A bath. A manicure. A new outfit.
9. Call your parents. My mom always tells me that I'm always allowed to complain and brag to them. Take full advantage of it. You can't complain and brag to most people; they'll stop talking to you. On top of the complaining and bragging, make sure you also THANK them. They're part of the reason why you're where you are right now. They deserve to know how grateful you are for them.
10. Remember your family. My family, for example, is all over the US. I have people in Jersey, but a lot are in Colorado, Florida, and Nevada. We don't see each other a lot, so remember to call them to say "hi". Family is forever. On that note, family doesn't have to be blood. In my case, family is also my roommates, my co-workers, and my team. I'm blessed to have this many people that I love. Whoever your "family" is, remember to love them.
Well, here we go again. Senior Year. Round Two. Maybe if I didn't change my major seventeen times, I would be onto Graduate School or working somewhere as a teacher. But, let's be serious. I don't really want to leave Rowan, my home for the last four years of my life.
It really does sound cliche. How could a college be a "home"? How are my roommates my family? How are my co-workers by family? How has joining a few clubs taught more than I could EVER have imagined learning in all of my classes combined? Somehow, it all has come together in such a beautiful way and I am reminded each and every day of just how lucky I am to be in my shoes.
Sometimes I get weirdly reflective at things. It doesn't happen much. Once a month, at most. But it is outstanding to have to imagine my life at another university, like Muhlenberg College - a college in a small town in Pennsylvania. Where would I be? I definitely would have not met some of the most fantastic, inspirational people that I've met here in good old Glassboro. I wouldn't have met the love of my life. I definitely wouldn't be planning to go to Grad School next year as a Graduate Assistant in a Recreation Center.
My mom likes to say that life is all about geography and timing. She couldn't have been more right.
I'm about to start my 9th semester of classes here at Rowan University in just a few days. Thinking about schoolwork again kind of makes me want to run for the hills. But my stress doesn't come from my academics. I'm basically a genius and have perfected the art of bullcrapping my way through lots of things, so I've managed to maintain a respectable GPA. (Don't worry Mom and Dad - I do study and work hard.) My stress lies in everything else I do outside of the classroom.
REC Center Sport Club Supervisor
NIRSA Student State Representative
PROS Member/Orientation Assistant
Community Service Member
IM Special Events Coordinator
Club Softball Member
Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentor
I LOVE everything I do and I am confident when I say that I would be NO WHERE near where I am if I didn't do each one of these things. But every once in a while, I lose my mind. My planner book has ink almost completely covering it, and I am overwhelmed. Usually it deals with a small hyperventilating session to my poor boyfriend who has gotten very good at rubbing my back and saying "If anyone can do it, you can." But sometimes, I can't help it. And as much as I'm looking forward to this upcoming semester and all of the joys, learning experiences, new friends, professional development, and laughter associated with it, I can't help but be a little nervous that I'm going to fill my plate a little too full...once again.
It also doesn't make it any better that my two best friends for the last four years are no longer by my side. Brielle, who I'm still calling my roommate, has graduated and moved to Jacksonville, FL for a year long program. Ryan, my boyfriend and best friend for four years also graduated and is currently looking for a job. These two suckers graduated in four years. Come on. And I'm here. I'm ready to grow up and move on and have Rowan in my back pocket with all of the experiences I've gained over the years. The emotions are all very confusing. I'm not even one to have or show many emotions. But, feeling stuck, feeling overwhelmed, feeling excited, feeling loved, feeling lonely, feeling blessed.
I've always been a glass-half-full-kind-of-girl and I plan to stick to that forever. So, I remind myself every day how TRULY BLESSED I am and how the future holds fantastic things for me.