As I am now only days away from walking across the stage to receive my diploma, I cannot help but think about everything that helped me get to this point or things I wish I would have done differently to make navigating through college a little bit easier. Here are my final pieces of advice before I set foot on my journey through life after college that truly is not so scary at all. Hopefully with these tips, I can help make this experience less stressful and more rewarding.
5. Don’t be afraid to lean on others and ask for help when you need it
If you’re anything like me, asking for help from others is my absolute last resort. I don’t like inconveniencing or burdening those I love, and I especially don’t like them thinking I am not strong enough to handle it on my own. But what I realized as the years only grew tougher and tougher is that I needed that help to make it this far. The same people who offer you their shoulder to cry on or $10 in gas money until you make it to the next payday are the same people who want to see you be successful more than you want to see yourself. Asking for help is actually the strongest thing a person like us can do.
4. Work hard now, so you can relax later
I haven’t had a weekend off in more than five years, and I can’t remember the last time I came home from work and didn’t have to do 15-credit hours worth of homework. I worked tirelessly while in school to make my debt as little as possible, all while juggling a car payment, insurance, rent and the ungodly price of weekly groceries. But let me tell you something—I have had a taste of what freedom looks like after college (slightly because my motivation is dissipating the closer I get to graduation), and it was worth every ounce of it. As the stress slowly leaves my fingertips as I finish up my last assignments, my weekends are opening up for all of the adventures and memories I missed out on while grinding my way through school.
3. Take time for yourself when things become too overwhelming
This is something I just learned to do in my last semester of college but wish I would have done a lot sooner. Many of us have way too much on our plates, yet we just keep piling things on because if we know that if we don’t, the fear of failing at something will continue to eat us alive. Even just treating yourself to breakfast and coffee before beginning a day full of studying or watching a couple of your favorite episodes in between homework assignments can go a long way. Your mental health is a priority, and it shouldn’t get lost in the pressure of having to deal with school. Take a step back, remind yourself that you work hard and enjoy that two-hour power nap. You may be scared that it will set you behind, but even the smallest change in your mood will make you more motivated to finish the semester.
2. Trust your instincts, and follow your heart
As cliché as it sounds, these words ring true, especially for life after college. I struggled for a very long time figuring out what I wanted to do and worrying about not finding something I’m good at, but now I know I wasted a lot of time doing so because everything always works out in the end, just like your mom says. When something feels right, don’t hesitate to follow that feeling and see where it takes you. And if you get to that point and realize that it might not be meant for you, feel no shame in leaving it behind and pursuing the next voice inside your head telling you to try something new. The good thing about feeling unsure of what you want to do is that life is always changing, and you will change right along with it. You might discover a new passion along the way that you never existed until you build up the courage to try it. Do what you love so that going to work is truly rewarding and doesn’t seem like a chore.
1. Never set limits for what you can and can’t do
The biggest critic you will ever have in life is always going to be yourself. And after learning the hard way, I learned I was much more capable of something I thought I would never be able to do. My biggest piece of advice for all of you is to never, ever, ever tell yourself you are not good enough. If you want something, by no means should you try and make up an excuse as to why you shouldn’t do it, and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise, either. Some of the greatest gifts in life come at times when you think you might not be ready, but it is even more gratifying knowing you surpassed those limits that you set yourself because you were scared you might fail. So go into every exam with a mindset full of confidence, and apply for that job even though you might think it is out of your league. Possibilities are endless.