What College Actually Taught ME

So first I want to apologize for not posting recently. I have been so busy with school that anytime I was on my computer, I was doing homework. But I just finished my last final, and finished my freshman year really strong academically and socially so thanks to the big man upstairs for the help. 

Earlier this month, I posted the blog “78 Lessons College Actually Taught Us” and I used quotes from my high school graduating class, ISU friends, UofI friends, and anyone really. But as the year came to a close, I realized that I learned a shit ton from my first year in college, and I really want to share it all. Brace yourself, this might take a while, but it’s worth the read. I promise.

Walking around floor 8 of Wilkins Hall, it feels deserted. I’ve lived here for most of the semester but this is the first time it has looked like a dorm hallway. I walk past the doors that used to open up to a room full of friends, personality, tears, laughter, pictures, televisions, and memories. But now they just open to 2 beds, 2 desks, 2 cabinets, and a window. Leaving Illinois State is so bittersweet. I came in hating so much of it, now I am one of the last students to move out. I have never seen myself grow so much as I did this past year, and I have learned more than this blog can handle. I never want to forget what I learned, but I also really need to share what I learned.

  1. It’s never too late to make a friend. You can think you have only 86,400 seconds in a day, or you can think that you have eighty-six thousand and four hundred freaking seconds in a day. Just like your day can go so poorly and suddenly its 10 pm and you get a text that changes your whole mood, your life can change with every moment if you let it. You never know what you missed out by not talking to that person you sat next to all semester, but never talked to. You never know what insight they could offer you, so go ahead, share your secrets with a floormate you have never talked to on your last night together, talk to that girl on the bus wearing a shirt of your favorite artist, make conversation with your janitor daily.
  2. Introduce yourself to everyone. Everyone has a story. You can learn something from everyone you meet, you just have to go meet them. This world is full of so many different kinds of people, and if you only hang around the same people all the time, you will never grow as a person. Some people will show you a side of yourself that you have never seen before, whether you like that side of yourself or not.
  3. Have deep conversations at random times. You can make small talk with everyone, but you may never get to know anyone. Conversations that allow you to reveal yourself are the conversations that allow you to really connect with someone. Vulnerability is beautiful; it brings us down to our lowest common denominator and unites us. So allow yourself to be vulnerable with someone, show them who you are, and let them feel like they can do the same with you. Don’t wait for that awesome turning point in a friendship when you share something so vulnerable and hidden with someone. Time goes too fast for you to wait for the right moment to come along, so stop waiting and make that moment.
  4. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Don’t take other people’s word for someone. Make your own opinion of the person. Just because one person had a bad experience with someone, it doesn’t mean you will too. You can listen to your friends complain about someone all they want, but don’t let what they say about the person influence your relationship with the person. The two are mutually exclusive. Give everyone a chance reveal themselves to you on their own. If they prove to be someone you don’t want to be around, you can still cut them off whenever. Just give them a chance first.
  5. It really is a small world. We’ve all had that moment when we introduced ourself to someone, mentioned our hometown, and suddenly their face lights up. You find out that they live like 20 minutes away from you, and know all these people, and within 10 minutes, you aren’t just acquaintances; you are old friends. You would be surprised to know how connected you are to people you have never talked to.
  6. Let life happen to you. Sometimes we push feelings away. We don’t want to feel the heartbreak of a tolling relationship for fear of being perceived, or perceiving ourselves, as weak. We don’t want to feel the excitement and pride of getting a good grade for fear of being perceived, or perceiving ourselves, as cocky or stuck up. We don’t want to feel the love for a potential close relationship, platonic or romantic, for fear of being perceived, or perceiving ourselves, as clingy.  Feel things. It’s healthy for you. It’s life.
  7. Open your mind. People have opinions as much as you do. Let them have them. Let them share them. If you give your opinion on something, allow someone to give theirs. If you ask someone for their opinion, be ready for it to not be what you expected, or what you want it to be. And if their opinion conflicts with yours, use that opportunity to learn about another perspective. You don’t have to agree with everyone, but you should look at life from their point of view. It might be better than what you are looking at.
  8. Put your phone down. When you are sitting with a group of people socializing, put your phone away and in your pocket. Converse with this group of human beings sitting around you. I have already told you so much about what you can learn from people, so take this opportunity to do that. When you are sitting on the beach, watching the waves crash on the shore and you’re with one of your best friends, put your phone away. Not every moment needs to be Instagrammed. Some moments are more valuable as memories than as pictures. Make the effort to remember them. Look up.
  9. Time is measured in moments, not minutes. Analyze your semesters, your breaks, your relationships by moments, not minutes. You see the real value of them that way. A week can feel like a day when you are just going through a routine, and a day can feel like a week when you have 3 exams. In the same way, you could be friends with someone for years, and still not be as close to them as you are with someone you met a week ago.
  10. God has a plan. Illinois State was not my first choice school. I applied to so many schools and got accepted with scholarships to all of them except my top school. I was not denied acceptance, but I did get wait listed which was the same result as being denied. I was mad at God for the longest time. I worked so hard for so long, and no one understood why it didn’t pay off. Nothing made sense. But God really is a Dad, and he will protect you from things you didn’t even know you needed protection from. It wasn’t until this year came to an end that I looked back and realized I could not have grown to become the person I am now had I been at UofI all year. God is going to screw up your life at the most inconvenient times, and you just have to take it. It won’t make sense at first, but I can’t stress how much he knows what he is doing. God is truly omniscient.

It is 8:07 pm, and I am officially moved out of my room and sitting in my floor lounge, remembering all of the conversations had, memories shared, and people met. College has taught me more about myself than I thought I could learn, and leaving ISU is one of the hardest things I have had to do in a while. I plan to make the friendships I have made here last as long as possible. I came in with ridiculously low expectations, and I am leaving with incredible blessings.

I will end with this quote:

“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love, but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.”


Thank you, ISU.


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