College Changes Ya

That’s for darn sure.

I’m not a big blogger, but I have compiled a list of 20 pieces of advice that I’ve learned/accepted/embraced over my first year of school.

1. Some days you’ll miss your mom so much that you’ll make up multiple excuses to call her multiples times per day just to hear her voice. And that’s okay. She’s the exact same way, I know it. People always told me this and I never believed them, but I really would give anything to be sitting on the couch, watching TV with her right now.

2. Success isn’t measured in the extravagant things you’ve done, but rather where you are now compared to where you were when you began. Here’s something I have to remind myself every single day. So often, I’m staring into the mirror asking myself where my Emmy nomination is, and then I back it the heck up because that’s bonkers. Success isn’t based on stuff like that. It’s based on happiness, on progress, on pushing yourself inch by inch every day.

3. It is so okay to ask for help. Period. In your work, in your art, in your emotional help. Don’t live a life relying on others, but know when it’s time to ask for help. Someone will always be there, you just have to look in the right places.

4. Some days are Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind. Some days are Russell Crowe in Les Miserables. If you don’t understand witty pop culture references, I’m saying that some days are amazing, and some days are garbage. Seriously, whoever was in charge of casting Crowe as Javert was hurt one time too many. Anyways, my ideal response to moving to Chicago was that every day was going to be beautiful and magical and bright like a very well written sit-com. But boy oh boy was I wrong about that one. Most days I am curb-stomped by the fierce Chicago winds and end up crying in bed to some baby animal video (Like this one, which ruined my life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqMXQTPoLeI). And that’s okay. You’ve gotta have the bad to match with the good, because it makes the good alllll the better.

5. That high school boyfriend won’t last unless you’re one of those magical fairytale characters whose life defies all statistics and doesn’t make any sense and shut up I’m not angry you’re angry. I’ll thank him though. Heartbreak is one of the best writing tools. Fall in love with yourself first, ladies. He’ll become a stranger while you become stronger. ‘Nuff said.

6. You’re going to be really, really, really not okay sometimes. When those days come around, take a deep breathe, surround yourself by positive people, go on a walk, buy a slushie, watch videos of people getting tased (ugH… it’s so funny). Do whatever it takes to bring yourself out of that dark lil’ space, but remember what I said earlier. Sometimes it takes the bad with the good. Remember what makes you sad, fix it to your advantage to find some good.

7. Alone time can be a really beautiful thing. For me, at least. Sitting alone at a coffee shop. Walking down a street you’ve never been down before. Listening to that album that takes you back to that place you love so much. You have to be alone with your thoughts sometimes, even though it can be weird and scary.

8. Put yourself out there. In everythingIn the professional world. With boys. With the cashier at 7/11 who now knows me as a regular. Really, I single-handedly fund their slushy business. But seriously. You will never regret introducing yourself to someone new. People are KEY when it comes to making it out here in Adult-Land. Nobody is going to be weirded out by the person who makes themselves known. Unless you have like, weirdly damp hands or stand too close to them. Get some social cues, yo.

9. On a personal note, I wish I could take every crappy thing I ever did to my brothers and replace them with kind, supportive things. When I was like, 12, I broke my little brother’s Batman action figure on purpose and I will NEVER FORGIVE MYSELF. I miss them so so so much. I miss Kaden’s super weird faces. I miss how Teagan is afraid of taking the trash out at night. I miss Brady’s incredibly memorable laugh and the same haircut he had from junior high to his first few years of college. Missing siblings is hard, yo.

10. Receiving mail is one of the world’s greatest gifts. I still cry every single time anyone sends me mail. I’m not kidding you. The front desk people in my apartment have witnessed more of my tears than some of my closest friends. My Nana sent me $10 once and I just broke down in the mail room. Wasn’t cute.

11. Workout when you can. Try to at least twice a week. I know, I know, it sucks, but it will promote a healthier sleep cycle and altogether make you feel better.

12. Find what you love and try to do it a little bit every day. Unless it’s drugs or booze or reality TV, then sashay away. For me, it’s writing. And I’ll tell you, I am not perfect. I have my days where I just don’t. But I’m working on it and growing and learning and working. You have to hustle to live the life you want. 

13. Not everyone is going to like you. This one is a big ole’ ouch. I’m a people pleaser and I hate most conflict. It’s taken me such a longggg timeeeee to realize that some will love ya, some will hate ya, and some will be incredibly indifferent. As long as you find that close-knit group of people who love ya unconditionally, you’ll be set.

14. Find your comfort zone, put on your running shoes, and run like hell right past it. It shouldn’t exist anymore. And yeah, it’s not always as easy as that. If you don’t feel like you can simply push it aside and go past it, take baby steps. Any point that you push yourself past your comfort zone is a tiny victory.

15. Open your freakin’ mind up. You’re going to meet so many, so many amazing wonderful different beautiful kinds of people. Each are worthy of your respect. This doesn’t mean throwing out everything you’ve ever believed for the sake of pleasing others. It means staying open-minded. Listening to others and respecting who they are and what they stand for. The moment you set aside your pride is the moment you allow to many amazing people to come into your life.

16. Listen. This is the only piece of advice my super awesome step-dad gave me before dropping me off on move-in day (hey, Dad). Listen to your peers, listen to your instructors, listen to everything. What you have to say is important, but there is nothing more valuable than a good listener. And if you kind of suck at it like I do, make yourself aware. Go into conversations saying “heck yeah, I’m gonna listen the heck out of this conversation.” People love a good listener.

17. Ice creams can heal. And also make you gain a bunch of weight. So only use in times of emergency. Yeah.

18. Make your bed every morning. I don’t really have any justification for this one. It just makes your day feel more organized and altogether more adult-ish.

19. Laugh at yourself. You’re going to do some stupid, stupid stuff and you’re just going to have to learn how to take yourself less seriously or things are gonna get weird.

20. Enjoy the time that you get to be home. Over Christmas break, I just kept wishing and wishing that I was back in Chicago. Now that I’m back, I wish I was back home for just a week. It’s hard to find contentment with this. Just appreciate when you’re home. Nothing will ever beat free food, time with your family, and seeing your pets again.

 

So yeah. I’m still figuring it out, and likely will be until the day I die. That’s just part of it. Hope these things are at least a little helpful.

Much love from The Windy City,

Jen

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