As I prepare to start my final semester of college, I can’t help but think about what my goals were starting college and what I saw my life looking like by now. One thing college has taught me is that you can’t make a 4 year plan for your life! It is unpredictable.
I expected I would love the dorm life. I lived on campus at two colleges – one my first semester in Boston, and another for the remaining semesters in New York. I can definitely say that a few of my roommates became my best friends over the years! I can also say that different schools have a completely different dorming experience. Living on campus has it’s benefits – a room to go to in between classes, it’s easier to be involved on campus, and it’s proven that those who dorm do better academically. I’ve had some amazing memories living with friends, but I am very excited to commute this last semester! A tip of advice for you first time dormers: don’t wait to do laundry on Sunday! It’s the hardest day of the week to find a washer/drier.
I expected to always have my shit together. Dealing with college, work, and your personal life can all add up and make you just break down sometimes. That’s totally normal. Take time to just spend by yourself so you can unwind. Utilizing my campus gym and spending an hour on the elliptical tuned out with my music playing always does the trick for me!
I expected I would have finished college by now, but I couldn’t predict I would take a semester off. A few close people to me did the same thing. Depending on financial problems, needing to return home for personal reasons, or for health problems – students might take a semester off. College isn’t a race to see who will finish first, you need to do what is best for you. Just remember, it gets harder to go back the longer you take off.
I expected I would go out all the time with friends, but instead I turned down many plans because I worked a lot through school. Everyone has different financial backgrounds. Whether you are working to have extra spending money, or working because you have larger financial responsibilities, find a way to balance your social life. Last fall I decided I wouldn’t work Saturdays so that I could go to all my boyfriends football games, and go out afterward. During the weeks he had away games I used the day off to get ahead with my school work. If the weekends are your only chance to work, see if you can schedule one Saturday a month to be off. Your co-workers are probably also in college and will be glad to pick up the shift to make extra money themselves! Also, make sure you have a job that understands school comes first! I’ve had bosses that would make me feel stressed out about asking for a day off when I was in over my head with work, and I’ve also had bosses that have told me I work too hard and encouraged me to put school or my social life first.
I expected I would stay friends with my “bubble” from high school. I still have a few of my best friends from elementary school, but my high school friends all went separate ways after graduation. I’ve found that a lot of my friends in college and their boyfriends have also experienced this. It can be a confusing time to lose your identity when you’re home and don’t have those people there anymore, but you will make plenty of new friends in college, and your TRUE friends (like LO & LC) will always stick by your side – even if you go months between seeing each other. It is a GOOD thing to let go of the people that don’t make an effort to stay in your life.
I expected I would intern in New York City at Vogue or somewhere well known, but instead I chose a small agency closer to home. I will thank “The Hills” for this one. I remember watching that show weekly my Freshman year, and everyone in that cast had their dream job or internship. You have no reason why you can’t land the same opportunities – everyone has that possibility. For me I decided I didn’t want to make a long commute into the city, so finding an amazing internship close to me was a better fit. Many internships teach the same basics in the beginning anyway. If I could do it again I would have interned much more.
I expected a completely different dating life. When I started college I wanted to find a serious relationship, but when i began to date my college boyfriend, I ended up just treating things casual for awhile. Who you are and what you’re looking for evolve a lot during your 20’s. I am very surprised that I’ve ended up in a serious long distance relationship. Dating is the wild card in college. My first semester I saw so many high school couples break up, so many people start dating someone they are still with, and so many friends that enjoyed dating different people over the years. Enjoy whichever situation you find yourself in!
I expected to like all the guys my friends date. In high school I liked the guys my friends dated, probably because we were all mutual friends so the guys were already pre-approved, but that doesn’t happen in college. Your friends dating lives will bring all sorts of different experiences. Some of them will show up with a Justin Bobby, and some guy’s you’ll adore. The thing is, you can’t force your friends to change who they date – that’s up to them. It’s a hard thing to witness, and you can only do your best to be their supporter when they need it.
I expected to have opportunities come easily but they don’t. You have to make the effort to find opportunities for yourself. You won’t just be offered a trip to go to Paris at your internship, you have to go above and beyond to work your way into the position to get that offer.
I expected to find my place in the world during my college experience – to say “this is where I want to live,” but instead I’ve traveled to so many wonderful cities over the last few years and have the drive to keep exploring. I don’t think I can plant myself in one spot for too long.
As I think over everything I expected, and everything that turned out to be my reality, I have to admit that nothing turned out the way I originally thought it would. Despite the unexpected ways things have happened these four years, I have still managed to grow so immensely from the person I was at 18. Now as I try to imagine what my next steps will be after I graduate this fall, I know that college has taught me life is too unpredictable to answer that.
So let’s all embrace the trails that may stray away from our paved path, we will still reach our destinations!