This time of year always brings me some nostalgia. Watching younger people get ready to go back to uni reminds me of the times when I was getting ready to go to college, back in Boulder, CO. Those were some of the most memorable years of my life. I made so many friends, had incredible adventures, and even made so many mistakes, but ultimately, I emerged as someone I’m quite proud of. Even still, there are countless things I wish I could tell myself to better prepare for. If I could write a letter to my college self, this is what I would say…
I bet you are currently sitting in the 5th Floor Rooftop Terrace study lounge at the University Memorial Center at school. You’re probably looking out at the Flatirons, dreamily, trying to force yourself to look at your chemistry textbook, when you know you would rather be somewhere (anywhere!) in the world having a grand adventure. I know what you’re probably drinking. It’s those Starbucks iced lattes. I know they are your lifeblood right now, but try to lay off just a little – your future you will thank you for a less crazy sleep schedule.
I wanted to give you some advice. I’ll be turning 29 next month. It’s hard to believe that 10 years ago, around this time, I was studying for my first college/uni exams. Not surprisingly, if I try to remember what was on those exams, I draw a blank, but I can vividly remember the experiences I had and lessons I learned at CU…
1. Value your health.
These are probably some of the hardest years of your life. You’re intelligent and outgoing and most people probably don’t know how hard you are on yourself. I know that you’re studying a lot, sleeping very little and stressing even more. Breathe. While these grades and these tests may seem like the most important thing, and while there is unbearable pressure on you to do well, they are not worth destroying your physical and mental health. Throw the latte in the trash, put your books back in your bag, and go for a walk to clear your head (and build some muscle!).
2. Don’t doubt your value.
You keep hearing people tear you down, even people that are close to you. You’re not any of these negative things that people say. In fact, throughout your life, people will tell you that you’ve been a good friend to them, a good person, you work hard, and you’re going to go far. You are beautiful inside and out and so worthy of love – don’t ever doubt that! Don’t let those negative words ever have impact on you! Trust me, you will be happier a lot sooner if you shield yourself from people’s negativity.
3. Study Abroad.
You will almost decide not to, because you get scared and think that you can’t handle it, but that would be a terrible mistake. Choose to go. This will shape you in some of the most incredible ways. You will experience some of the most breathtaking cathedrals and mountaintops. You will meet some of the most incredible people on the planet. 10 years later, you will still meet up with your Spanish host mom for coffee, and even live in England! Even the chemistry you studied will pay off, because you will get a job in a pharmaceutical company in Europe!
4. Slow down.
All too often in college, I had a million things going on at once. I would take a full load of classes, have sorority activities, family responsibilities and my health and sanity would take last priority. I would study just to memorize things but now, I can’t recall half of what I had ‘learned’. I genuinely regret not slowing down those college years. Take fewer classes, learn to say no and focus on what is important to you. Less is always more, in the long run.
5. Plan for your future.
While the college years have so many things to stress you, just on an academic level and personal growth level, this is the time when you’re either setting yourself up to succeed or fail, when you graduate. I did not understand what my loans meant, what interest really does, and how a savings account is so important to have. Be wise with your money. Get rid of pointless subscriptions, and don’t spend money you don’t have. There are so many things I’d rather do with my money nowadays than have to pay back my student loans, but that’s the reality of your later 20’s.
Life doesn’t necessarily get easier from here, Love. You will struggle and continue to make more mistakes after college, but you’ll be so much stronger later on. Hold on tight to who you are and remember your worth. You will love college. The proudest day of my life was when you graduated. I know all the blood, sweat and tears that went into that diploma, so all I can say is, you deserved it babe!
Keep on keeping on.