I don’t have many regrets since coming to Radford. But there are a few things that I would have done differently if I had the chance to go back and do them again. As a senior days away from graduation, here’s some things I’ve learned that have made me a much happier person.
Be real with people. Life is far too short to be fake around people. Tell people how you feel. Let them know if you’re happy or upset. Say “I love you” to people if you mean it. Learn to recognize your worth. Be vulnerable around those you trust and know that you’re human and it’s ok to have feelings and emotions.
Learn to love and accept yourself, and learn to be ok with being by yourself. A lot of learning to love yourself and being alright with who you are comes from doing what makes you happy, even if you’re doing it alone. I love to sing and listen to music so I sing (even though I’m no good at it) and listen to music a lot, and it makes me happy. If you like something about yourself, but someone else’s doesn’t, that’s their problem. Not yours. Learn to love all of you, even your flaws.
Don’t be afraid of failure or disappointment. For a while, I would avoid doing a lot of things because I was afraid of failing and being disappointed. Even something like asking someone what time it was if I didn’t know, because I felt like I had failed at knowing something simple. But I learned that life is full of disappointment and failure teaches you 10 times more than success ever does. No one likes to be disappointed and the feeling sucks, but you’ll be able to accomplish much more when you’re willing to risk disappointment to get what you want. And sometimes the risk will pay off.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice. One thing I’ve learned is that people are a lot nicer than others give them credit for. Most people like helping others. So if you ask for help, most likely, they will be happy to help you or let you know something and it will make them feel good too. And remember that people aren’t against you—they’re for themselves.
Work hard. Play hard. Put effort into important things that need to be done. Schoolwork, your job—do these things in a way so that you’ll be proud of them. But then take time to have some fun and cherish those times when you’re hanging out doing nothing and being stupid with your friends. They’ll be gone way too fast.
My last bit of advice is one that my grandmother told me: You can’t reach your full potential as long as you’re always worried about pleasing other people and worried about what they think.
As I’m typing this, I have less than 50 days until graduation. I’ve been reflecting on my time here at Radford University and noticing many things have changed since that first year. College is a time of extreme growth and experiencing as much as possible, so no one leaves the same person they came in as.
When I was in high school, I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing wet hair to school. Now, it makes an almost daily appearance. Along with rocking wet hair, my sense of fashion has sort of devolved. Although I lived on campus as a freshman, I would still get up no less than an hour before my class and make myself look presentable by wearing nice jeans and just trying to look human as possible. Nowadays, however, it’s nothing to throw on leggings and a big hoodie (with no bra, mind you) and run to class just minutes after awaking from my slumber.
Going out has also become much easier. As a freshman, my suite-mates and I would spend hours doing our hair and makeup and picking out outfits. We often wore high heels and short skirts out.
Now, I dress for comfort, not for looks. If I go out to a party in the winter, I’m bundling up. I once would freeze the most unmentionable parts of my body just to look cute. Now, I’ll throw on some leggings and a sweater and a quick face of makeup and head out the door.
High heels very rarely make an appearance these days.
My sense of humor
As a freshman, being late to class was no laughing matter. Doing poorly on a test was completely unacceptable and I spent many nights crying into my homework. Now, when I walk into class lateI just smile at the professor and say, “sorry.” I’ve also trained myself to just laugh when I don’t get the test score I wanted, as opposed to crying about it. In college, you experience a lot of disappointment, and if you can’t laugh at it from time to time, you’ll fall apart.
After an embarrassing weekend of shenanigans, as a freshman I would spend all week awkwardly avoiding eye contact with the people I encountered throughout the weekend. Now, I just laugh at myself and move on. Sometimes that’s much easier than wallowing in self-pity.
My study habits
One of the biggest accomplishments I’ve reached as a senior is finally learning how to study for my tests. It’s only taken roughly 17 years of schooling for me to finally find a way to study that actually resonates in my mind.
As a freshman, I would use hundreds of index cards and painstakingly mark each one with it’s appropriate definition or explanation. Now, I create my own study guides out of my notes. Not only does this save a lot of time, it also saves paper and my fingers from those sharp edges on note cards.
My sleep schedule
This one is probably very obvious. College students don’t get nearly enough sleep, and sometimes it’s worth it. Between long weeknights spent in the library and long weekends with no rest, we have some of the worst sleep schedules on the planet.
As a freshman, I tried my best to get those 8 hours of sleep. Now, if I get more than 5 hours of sleep, it’s a good day. Running on little sleep can be exhausting but it’s rewarding once you realized that less sleep either means better grades or nights full of fun with your best friends.
Formalities become casualties by the time you’re a senior. What were once delicately put together emails with perfect punctuation are now brief sentences with little to no punctuation sent to my professor.
Having the title “professor” or “doctor” is intimidating at first, so you often feel like you have to be very formal when addressing your professors. But by your fourth or fifth year, you realize your professors are just people. It’s especially easy if your professor is younger or a graduate student. Even older professors who have been teaching for decades are really just people going to work, and will often work with you in ways you never thought possible.
One professor I had called me into her office one day over an issue I had with a project. I knew I was in trouble, as I had failed to make it to an important meeting. Although my professor was visibly irritated with me, she really just wanted to help me.
Your professors want what’s best for you. Although some professors seem to love to fail students, most of the time they want to be your friend and want to help you understand what you’re studying.
When I first came to school, I had never done any kind of drugs and I had only been drunk once, and I went into college not expecting that to change. I also came in as a Christian and am leaving as an Agnostic. Being sober and religious was the center of every decision I made coming into college. Now, I know that just because there are rules against something doesn’t make it bad.
Having fun with your friends isn’t a bad thing, even if it’s under the influence of alcohol. My religious beliefs once made me feel that to enjoy and partake in all the things around me was vain. I felt guilty going out and drinking cheap beer at parties, even though I wasn’t hurting myself or anyone around me. Now, that I’ve experienced the “Cannabis Culture” of Colorado, and found that I have a love for beer, I realize that enjoying these things isn’t bad. To live life wishing you had tried new things and regretting not living your life to the fullest, however, is bad.
College can be scary at times, but you grow so much in such a short amount of time. Along with what you learn in lectures and labs, you gain so much life experience that teaches you valuable lessons that can’t be found anywhere else. Enjoy and absorb every moment, but know you’re going to survive and you’ll be better for it.