What I Wish I Would Have Known Then

When I started college I thought I knew everything. At least, I pretended I did. Fake it ’til you make it, right? In reality I was that wide-eyed kid who didn’t have a clue what to do and just wanted to fit in. As a “super senior,” I look back and say to myself, “oh, how sweet, you thought you’d graduate in four years.”

If I could talk to my 18 year old self, I’d tell her to have more fun, stop caring what people think, get over stupid grudges, and a few more things.

That Class You Hate? Just Deal With It

Not to sound like every other list ever that has to deal with giving advice to people in college, but your classes are so important. So, for the love of God, don’t skip them. At least not all the time. Take a few mental health days, take a few actual sick days, but don’t let that number exceed four days because by that time you’re just wasting money (and a lot of it). If you don’t deal with how much you dislike a class and end up skipping, chances are you might fail. #BeenThereDoneThat.

According to university policies, I failed both Financial Accounting and Business Finance my sophomore year. Obviously finance is not one of my strong suits. Or at least it wasn’t. As a self-proclaimed nerd who hates doing bad in anything academic failing those classes was/is something I’m embarrassed about.

Retaking those classes I had to figure out a way to make them relevant to my life. I realized I could use accounting to figure out how to budget and increase profits for my potential future company. That made it relevant. Business finance on the other hand, I had no idea how to make relevant until today when I discovered I could use it to determine how much money I had to invest so that I could retire a millionaire. Answer: $30 a week if I start in three months.

College Is About Growth And Change

Change is scary. The unknown is scary. Just embrace the journey. I’ve had some of the happiest moments of my life and some of the most heartbreaking. All of those moments changed me. They gave me challenges to overcome and ideas that turned into dreams that turned into reality. I wish I could show you a diagram of exactly what changed, how I changed because of it, and the difference between my feelings then and now about what happened. Maybe it would just be fascinating to me, but I think it would be able to communicate better than I can in words exactly who I’ve become and how I feel about it.

I just want to go back in time and at my lowest moments tell myself that I’ll get through it and at my highest moments that I deserve it. 18 year old Taylor had no idea that in five years she would still be in college, working two jobs while going to school full time, single, and enjoying every minute of the mess that is her life.

One of the worst things about going to school in your twenties is that nobody knows what’s happening and everyone (at least most people) are too hard on themselves. Instead of resisting the change, go with it. Give yourself breaks when you need them. Adjust and grow.

SAY NO.

Don’t be a yes man. You don’t have to take up every single opportunity, project, and/or offer that comes along. It’s okay to say no, I promise. Other opportunities will arise. Just don’t be the person who says no to absolutely everything. Everything in moderation.

I had an issue with saying no for a long time. It wasn’t until I almost had a mental and emotional breakdown that I realized something needed to change. When I was anxious 24/7, cried every single night, didn’t have a moment for myself, and people in my life started to vocalize repeatedly that they were concerned about my well being, I knew something had to change. I wish I would have realized it sooner though.

Speaking of saying no, it’s also cool to say no to social activities. College is about being social and trying new things, but that doesn’t mean you should do things you don’t want to. I personally don’t like going downtown that often, so I often say no to friends who ask me to. I’ve also started to realize, as much as I love being around people, it’s cool to spend time alone too. In fact, not accepting every invitation might make you more intriguing*. Create an air of mystery for yourself.

Use Your Resources And Use Them Wisely

It’s crazy how many free things you can get with a student I.D. I wish I would have started using it earlier. Besides the perks with your student I.D. college campuses offer so many services for students. Most of these services are underutilized. Off the top of my head I can think of the Career Development Center, Health Services, and Center for Academic Success.

Another resource you should be conscience of is money. Be smart about what you spend it on. Know what you need to save for and how much your bills typically are. Also figure out what is important for you and what you can’t live without in your life. For me that’s travel. I’ve learned to save and budget for trips because of it. So while in college I’ve been able to drive home or “up north” multiple times and travel to North Carolina/South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Las Vegas. I’m also traveling to Venice and Paris in December and hope to travel to California in January.

Don’t forget about your family.

They care. More than you know. And letting you go off on your own and become an adult is hard for them too. I haven’t always been the most patient or grateful when it comes to my family. I used to go for a month without talking to them because I told myself I was too busy or nothing important had happened that they needed to be updated on. In reality, that’s not what mattered.

They just missed me. They wanted to hear about my life, no matter how mundane the details. But being me, I was a tad ignorant and didn’t realize that I needed them and their support just as much as they wanted to talk to me and be a part of my life. So here’s my formal apology. Sorry, I was stupid. I missed being home more than anything and I wish I would have let you support me more because I needed it. Love you.

—-Don’t forget to follow Mess In Progress for updates on my crazy, messy, beautiful life. Feel free to share with me what you wish you would have known before college!!

*This may or may not be factual.

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