What I Learned My Fresh(man) Year of College

2:44:00 PM

At this point in my life, time has become one of the most precious things to me.  I have witnessed an entire 10 months pass before my eyes in what seems like 10 seconds.  These 10 months have been some of the best months of my life.  I have never learned so much and grown so quickly as I have my freshmen year of college. 

I am completely torn between wanting to just stop time and breath and wanting life to keep speeding ahead like it is because, right now, being breathless just feels so good.  I don't think I've ever been happier and more in love with my life than this second.  My head is dizzy from such a whirlwind year and my heart is bursting with so much passion and love for life. 
Freshman year of college is nothing like anybody every described it to be. It's better. No word, sentence, or quote can do it justice because no one has the same experience.  So maybe the only word to describe it is indescribable. You just have to experience it for yourself. 

I can say all of this because --and although it absolutely kills me to say this-- I have finished my Freshman year at Virginia Tech.  I haven't finished it...I've survived it, crushed it, rocked it, embraced it, and LOVED it. And if I can tell anyone anything right now, I want to tell the naive, anxious blonde chick who just graduated from high school what I wanted someone to tell me before I set foot on campus and before life picked up and took off, full speed into the absolutely wonderful unknown. 

And so here they are, a few things Freshmen year has taught me:

1. Let life happen. College may be the bumpiest, craziest, most emotional roller coaster of your life.  Freshmen year is no exception. Hell weeks come in waves and so do the tears, mental breakdowns, and emotional exhaustions.  But so do the moments of unimaginable joy, untouchable happiness, and complete and utter contentedness. Take everything for what it is, nothing more and nothing less. You'll find yourself much happier if you roll with the punches and go with the flow. 

2. Your parents are your best friends. Never in my entire life have I felt closer nor more loved than right now, when I am hundreds of miles and hours of travel time away from my parents. Mom and dad are amazing.  They pay the out-of-state tuition, drive the seven hours for football games, listen to my mental breakdowns over class, and love. So don't take those precious Skype minutes for granted. 

3. Do it for YOU. Yes your parents may be paying for your tuition, meal plan, greek life, whatever...but you're the one at school.  You're the one that signed up to join the club.  You're the one that decided to go to the gym at 11pm. You're the one that decided to skip out on a frat party to study for your exam. Starting now this is your life and you have 100% control.  It's not scary, it's awesome.  Whatever you do at college, do it for yourself.  If you're going to make anybody proud, let that person be you.

4. Don't bring your entire closet. They say to bring two weeks worth of clothing. Don't even bring that much.  If you stay on top of your laundry and have a weeks worth of leggings, yoga pants, and oversized t-shirts, you're set.  I know it sounds totally and completely cliche but it's true.  You won't wear anything else. Girl Scouts' honor.

5. Rush. There are so many rumors, stereotypes, and labels on greek life and I respect anyone's decision to be apart of it or leave it in the dust, but the greek community has transformed my life.  You find the people that will get Cookout with you at anytime of day or night, the people that will pull you to a party when they know you need it most, and, ultimately, the people that will love and support you under all circumstances.  So before you roll your eyes and let the rumors decide that you won't be rushing, look into it.  There is so much more in fraternities and sororities than what is found on the surface.  

6. The 2am food runs are worth it. Whether you're morbidly writing a paper or you're one of the hysterical folks stumbling back from what will later be known as the party of the semester, chicken tenders and a pudding cup will make the night that much better.  And you better eat those fries and poptarts now because as soon as you graduate and start binge eating mac n cheese at 3am, its no longer funny, its a poor life decision (or so they say).

7. Be present.  There is nothing I find more important (and nothing I struggle with more) than living in the present.  In college you spend a lot of time focusing on what exam is tomorrow, what club event is next week, and what time you need to hit the gym.  And don't get me wrong, planning and preparing for the future is absolutely crucial in university but your happiness and contentedness will thrive off of your presentness.  Take in every moment in its entirety so in those few seconds you feel alive and so when you're sitting at home on the couch from May to August you can reflect and smile on the moments that have been making up the best four years of your life. 

8. Leave your door open. Everyone says it, yet it is still so underrated.  From the day you move in till the day you pack up your life and bring it back home, keep your creaky door wide open because its the people that come stumbling through that doorway and introduce themselves that may be your best friends.

9. Be the person that goes stumbling through your neighbor's doorway. Get off your bed, get out of your comfort zone, and go introduce yourself.  Connections, networking, and just basic friendships are the backbone of collegiate happiness.  And trust me, on move-in day, everyone is just as awkward and nervous as you are, so go for it.

10. Compassion is powerful. On the heels of my last few tips/lessons, I think I should conclude with what may be the greatest lesson I learned this year: compassion.  People are the ultimate foundation of your college experience.  But it is not just a one-sided relationship.  If you want your college experience to take your breath away and leave you feeling loved and indescribably happy, you need to give back.  I don't mean pick up trash off the sidewalk, I mean pull out your phone and wish your hall mate good luck on their exam that day, invite your stressed friend to the gym because you want to help, and send campus cookies to the friend that really just needs a hug and something sweet.  Compassion is how you meet, make, and keep friends. 

11. BE YOURSELF. (Last one I swear.)  There is nothing else that I can say about this.  To some its obvious, to some it may not be sooo transparent. But seriously, if you want genuine friendships and a good time, its all you need to do.  Be confident, be you.  

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