A graduation post: 5 Things I’d tell my freshman self

While talking to some friends the other day, I realized that the girl who stepped onto Gardner-Webb’s campus in August of 2009 is not the same as the woman who will walk across the stage today in the LYCC.

I’ve learned a lot over the past four years, and not all of it has been in the classroom (okay, most of it probably WASN’T in the classroom). If I could go back in time and give myself a pep talk the night before I left for college, here are the top five things I would say:

5. Get some sleep.

If you looked up the term “night owl” in the dictionary, your (my, our… how DO you address your past self???) photo would be right next to it right next to it. However, resist the urge to stay up all night every night.

Some late nights are unavoidable—sometimes, duty (work, homework or friend crises) calls. Other times, the consequences are worth it (some of your best college memories will be made after 11 p.m.), but weigh the consequences. Is it really worth it? You don’t have to text or Skype with him all night every night. You don’t need to check Twitter one more time. You don’t need to watch that next episode of NCIS. Get some sleep, girl! You’ll thank yourself tomorrow.

4. Choose your friends wisely.

Over all, you’ve got a good head on your shoulders when it comes to friends, but think about these two things: make lots of different friends and cultivate friendships with friends who make you better.

Making friends that are different from you (and that are in different groups) gives you a variety of perspectives. Also, if things go sour in one group (or if everyone graduates) you’re not left friendless and alone (okay, maybe that’s being a little over dramatic).

Cultivating friendships with those who make you better will, well… make you better. Find those people that encourage and support you—the ones that will challenge you and hold you accountable. These are the relationships that will be the sweetest and most worthwhile.

3. TSD: Try Something Different.

You will become very familiar with the phrase “TSD” through the Honors Association at Gardner-Webb, but don’t just apply it to ethnic foods. You have so many opportunities in college that you will never have again. Take advantage of those opportunities. You’ll like some things and you’ll dislike others, and that is perfectly okay.

Listen country music; you might actually like it. Take a writing class; you might be good at it. Go to a foreign country; you might enjoy it. Spend a semester in a new place; you might find a new home.

2. Don’t let people tell you what you can or can’t do or what you are and aren’t good at.

You are incredibly gifted. You may not be able to sing, write a thesis or paint a picture like ________, ________ or ________, but you have gifts that even YOU don’t know about yet! Take the time to discover them during college, and just because someone tells you that you’re not smart enough or gifted enough to do something, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. You never know, you might just prove them very wrong.

1. Even if things don’t end like you hoped, there are positives.

You’re entering college with lots of big dreams and you will leave college with lots of big dreams. During these next four years, you will achieve some of those dreams, abandon others and create some new ones.

Some of those dreams will come crashing down around you. As much as it hurts and as cliché as it sounds, God is in control and He has a plan for your life. Even when you don’t see His reasoning behind it all, look for the little blessings that came out of your big mistakes.

So when you part ways with that boy you thought you were going to spend the rest of your life with, look at the beautiful friendships that you developed because you knew him. When you fail that class, know that it’s a new beginning and that there are opportunities around the corner that you never would have had as an ASL major. When you don’t have a job right after graduation, think about the extra adventures that you’ll get to have that you wouldn’t have had if you were sitting in an office all day (okay, I’m still trying to convince myself of that one).

Have fun. Laugh a lot. Make mistakes. Grow. Make the most of the next four years.