Back to school season. It’s weird now that I think of it, but going back to school may just excite me more than new shoes, tailgate season and vodka infused gummy bears all combined. I’m anxiously waiting for a reunion with distant friends, a sea of maroon as everyone proudly rocks their school colors, and to take in the oh-so-familiar sights of shirtless frat boys moving couches into their student houses (why hello, welcome to the neighborhood). Fall truly brings an indescribable energy to my university, and fills it with opportunities to make the most out of what everyone says will be “the best four years of your life.” I love being that upperclassman veteran who’s done it all before and can offer advice to those embarking on a scary journey and moving away from home for the first time. Although college truly is full of life-long friendships, parties like you’ve never seen them before, and freedom to eat an entire bag of chips at 3am, the best advice I’ve ever learned to both take, and give is this.
College won’t be the best four years of your life.
It’s just the beginning. We hear our older friends and family reminisce all the time about how they peaked in college, and without even realizing it, they’ve set some bullsh*t social expectations for what we should experience during our time there. College is great, but it’s not everything. I remember sitting in the basement of my dorm in first year, just 4 months into the school year; I was slamming my head against a study-carousel and running off little to no sleep. It was the night before my final statistics exam, and I was on the verge of failing the entire class. I truly felt like college wasn’t for me, and all I wanted was to drop out, give up and go home.
It wasn’t the bright shiny, laughing image that I had imagined from the movies. Some of the absolute hardest, most painful, and all the while, life-changing moments of my life have happened while I’ve been away at college. It’s been a ride filled with ups and downs, but the great thing about it? There’s a long, happy, professor-free life waiting to be experienced on the other end. Filled with first times, last times, and inevitable change, I’m not always going to be that girl without purpose slamming numbers into her beat-up calculator. College is about learning the hard way who you are, and who you want to be. It’s about experimentation, curiosity, crying over failed final exams or failed hook-ups, and never really knowing what’s coming next. But once you’ve passed your 4 years here, you’ll be ready for the best years of your life.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate for continuing education after high school, and everything that those years have to offer. With all the incredible friends and role models I’ve met, the sweet job I nailed at my campus radio station, finally conquering my bad luck in the dating world and the perfect tolerance I’ve gained to get me exactly on the wine buzz I was looking for without becoming a total drunk trainwreck, these are without a doubt my best years…
The truth is, I have ambitions beyond the keg stand records I set during freshmen year, and the perfect GPA I could’ve earned. I want more than a number on a transcript to define my success, intelligence, courage, and professionalism. I plan to “peak” as a mother, an accomplished businesswoman, an old lady with wrinkles and someone who learns to inspire those around her every damn day. No degree can teach that, and no amount of lectures, parties, or football games will be able to define that.
College gave me reason to believe that the best years are coming. It, along with all the people that create that experience, is the driving force to get excited about what’s still to come. To my new friends, the Class of 2019, there’s no pressure to make these years the absolute best. You still have an entire life ahead of you, don’t sweat it. To my recent grads, it’s okay if you didn’t fulfill everything on your bucket list in these past four years. You have time to be the change you want to see in the world. To everyone in between, make the most of today, because every year can be the best year of your life.
Featured Image via Tumblr.