As many of you know, I’m finally graduating college this month. I’m the first in my actual family to receive and degree, and only the SECOND person in my ENTIRE family on both sides to ever receive a degree. Being a first-generation student supporting themselves financially through school came with its struggles within and of itself, but I made it work! The past five years of my life have been a complete whirlwind, with me thinking “there’s now way this can really be happening half the time”, that’s how shocked I was at all I was being thrown at and dealing with while being a full-time student. With that being said, let’s dive right in…

Your friends freshman year will not be your forever friends

If you’re living on campus in a dorm/residence hall freshman year, basically everyone expects to become best friends with everyone they’re living around. While sometimes this does happen and you end up making nice, long-term friends from freshman year, it’s important and VITAL that you do not let these people dictate your future college career. I became really close with people who lived on my residence hall floor. If we weren’t in our classes, we were either at the dining halls together, hanging out in someone’s dorm room or just finding absolutely anything to do with one another for the most part. We hung out over winter and spring break, finding any possible way to meet up with one another or as a group when we weren’t all on campus in our dorm. They really were my best friends at the time! However, despite how much time we all spent together, all good things come to an end. Even though for a time I thought I would be lifelong friends with some of these people, things happened and I don’t even want anything to do with several of those people now. * shrug * People change in ways you could have never imagined and I would have never expected that freshman or even sophomore year, but it’s always important to do what’s best for yourself, regardless of what anyone else thinks, says or does.

Moral of story #1: The people you meet in your dorms may or may not become your good friends. If not, that’s totally fine! Meet people through clubs, classes, spots, etc.! And if they do, ensure it’s a healthy friendship and the second you feel like it’s not, don’t feel bad about letting them go.

Don’t be in a rush to move off-campus

I had a lease signed for my own apartment with two other girls before the spring semester of my freshman year even ended. I did this because I knew there was no way I would be able to stay sane living back at home during the summer, I couldn’t commute from home to school if I did go back there since I didn’t have a car, I didn’t get the RA position I was hoping for nor did I get offered a position for the on-campus summer job I applied for. Needless to say, I was freaking out. So, I did what I thought was best at the time and my only option and got this apartment I would be paying for completely myself. Because I decided to do this, I had to work at least two jobs the entire time I was in school, while working three the majority of the time. I became really depressed, my anxiety became worse than ever before, my grades started slipping and I was into some really unhealthy habits due to the lax environment of living in your own apartment. If your parents offer to help you out with rent and utilities, that’s awesome! But I stress to everyone, do NOT rush into an apartment and work yourself to death while you’re in school. There are other options. I could have lived on campus another year, but I didn’t want to run the chances of getting a random roommate I would have issues with. I probably should have just taken my chances, but nevertheless, I wanted an apartment so I got an apartment. And I’ve learned my lesson a thousand times over!
Moral of story #2: If you can, do not rush into living off-campus if you think your grades and mental health may be sacrificed.

Your mental health is most important

I struggled with my mental health years before college. I was very depressed and anxious, and was 100% ready to go somewhere new, meet new people and start a new chapter of my life. Freshman year I was very anxious at times and the amount of alcohol I was drinking (which was a lot, if we’re being honest here) did not help the situation whatsoever. Flash forward to sophomore year when I was living off campus and paying for my own cell phone, rent and utilities, school necessities and food. So, basically everything. Because of this, I had to work 50+ hours a week, let my grades drop and let my mental health deteriorate more and more everyday. As soon as I would get to my apartment at night from work I would shut myself in my room and be in bed, anxious, until the next morning when I had to get up and do it all over again. I was in a terrible place and sought the help of my school’s counseling center. While that didn’t really go well and ended up with them telling me that I needed further help they couldn’t offer, I don’t regret seeking the initial help from someone else. After this I believe I moved elsewhere, and ended up feeling a bit better but was still very anxious. Eventually I was able to move somewhere where I didn’t need to pay rent, saving me from most of the stress I was dealing with. Once this happened, I started finding healthier ways of coping, figured out good medication from my doctor and have been doing better and better. If you feel your mental health slipping or feeling different about yourself, it happens. Everyone is stressed during college and more and more kids are dealing with anxiety now, too. While school counseling centers may be better elsewhere, it’s always a good idea to seek out their assistance if you’re at school and are looking for someone to talk to and possibly help you.

Moral of story #3: You can’t pour from an empty cup.

I have a lot of different emotions and feelings about graduating, but if you’re currently there and are having a tough time: it’ll get better. It may not be until a year from now but it’s so important to just keep on trucking because before you know it it’ll be your last semester and you’ll be outta there!

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