When I’m not writing this ‘ole blog, you are likely to find me at my full-time, 40-hour per week job. I work in higher education at a local state school, which results in me spending my days talking to mostly 18 to 22 year-olds about academics, life, career goals, etc.
I have worked at this particular institution for just a little over a year and a half now, and I feel blessed to work in an environment that is extremely cultured, diverse, lively, and energetic. Simply walking around campus puts me in a good mood. I guess that is what draws me to the higher education environment. I loved being a college student, and now I get to enjoy all of the “college feels” each day I step onto campus.
It is hard to believe that my freshman year of college was ten years ago. Seriously. How is that possible? But alas, I am officially old and nearing the 30-year mark. And as I look back on my college days with extreme fondness, I also have a great appreciation for how much things have changed since those four magical years. Would I go back to college? Pretty much in a heartbeat. But if I did, I’d do a lot of things a whole lot differently.
12 Things I Want to Tell Every College-Aged Woman
As I walk around campus as a 29-year-old, there are so many things I want to tell the average college-aged woman. Like…
1. Being pretty in college won’t get you very far in the “real world.”
Stop caring so much about your appearance. You will eventually realize that going to class with a full face of make-up and the trendiest of clothing is essentially a waste of time. As an adult, the thought of putting on a full face of make-up to go to work is about the least desirable thing ever. And a minimalist capsule wardrobe? Yeah, that’s about the greatest invention ever.
2. Your body will change and that is okay.
In the last ten years, my body weight and shape have changed and fluctuated greatly. I spent several of these years really caring about the way that I looked and the number on the scale. All that got me was unhappiness, a lack of a social life, and an unhealthy mind and body. Looking “good” and working against my body’s natural set point was a lose-lose experience all the way around. The earlier you accept your body’s natural weight and focus on health rather than looks, the happier and more fulfilled you will be.
3. Grades matter far less than you might think.
My Type-A, perfectionist personality made me a cray-cray student. While I was extremely successful in the classroom and my grades reflected that, I did not actually learn as much as I would have if I had not been so grade and GPA obsessed. I also probably missed out on a lot of learning experiences out of fear of not being “good enough,” which then resulted in me not even trying new or challenging things.
4. That acne may or may not disappear in adulthood.
This is probably one of those not-so-fun parts of life after college for many of us. My cystic acne was actually at its worse when I graduated from college. Though it is a bit better, even at 29 years old I still deal with it on a daily basis. I won’t pretend like it never bothers me, but luckily my self-esteem comes from a lot of other sources outside of my appearance (and yours should too).
5. You don’t have to know what you want to do for the rest of your life + your major doesn’t matter nearly as much as you think it does!
As a college student, I felt the intense pressure that most 18-22 year olds face when it comes to choosing a major. We tend to be under the impression that our academic major is for life and will determine our career path for years to come. While it may play a role in this, it definitely does not determine it. What is actually more important is your willingness to experience a lot of new things, discover your passions, and to work hard.
6. Finding your husband or wife is not the purpose of college.
While this may inadvertently happen, don’t make this your goal. That will result in way too much pressure being put on yourself. Enjoy your college experience instead of feeling like you have to find “the one.” A lot of us (me included) don’t get married until our late 20’s or early 30’s (or even later) and that is 100% okay!
7. The older you get, the less you will care about what others think of you.
Talk about freedom, right? It sounds completely cliché, but it really is true that the quality of the relationships we have is much more important than the quantity of relationships we have. This also means that it is extremely important for us to never sacrifice ourselves, our morals, or our beliefs to impress others, make friends, or find a significant other. The people in our lives who really love us will truly appreciate us for who we are.
8. You have to work at the relationships that are worth having.
Speaking of relationships, remember that what seems to come easily as a college student (hello, college students pretty much surround themselves with their friends and significant others on a daily basis) becomes a lot more work as an adult. As we get older, settle down, and have children, maintaining friendships requires actual work. You will need to go out of your way to be social, make plans, and nurture these relationships.
9. Sleep should and will become a priority for you.
As a college student, it was not uncommon for me to make it into bed at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. It was definitely not uncommon for me to nap throughout the day, too. My sleeping patterns were a bit of a wreck and my body did not appreciate the unpredictability of them. Now that I am nearing 30, it is pretty normal for my husband and me to be in bed by 9:00- even on weekend nights. The older you get, the more you appreciate sleep and realize that you body needs plenty of it. I happen to think being in bed long before most college students are going out for the night is quite amazing.
10. The financial freedom you have in college is something you will likely never have again.
Enjoy it! I don’t mean be reckless and rack up a ton of unnecessary debt. But trust me when I say that the financial responsibilities that accompany adulthood are just downright not fun sometimes. You can still have fun as an adult, but any “unnecessary” spending isn’t nearly as easy to do as when you are young (at least for me it isn’t)!
11. Being healthy, fit, and active doesn’t have to mean running marathons or joining a CrossFit gym.
Less stressful forms of exercise like walking, swimming, and yoga can be just as beneficial physically and mentally. And to be honest, I find that they are less stressful to my body and a heck of a lot more enjoyable. Become okay with this concept and don’t feel like it means you are accomplishing any less.
12. Our levels of stress don’t earn us medals.
I tend to be a bit of a stress case. I get stressed easily, and I always thought for a long time that I “thrived on stress.” Sure, it pushed me to accomplish a lot academically and professionally, but it also took a toll on my physical and mental health. We don’t need to be in competition with ourselves and others for who is the “most stressed” or who can accomplish the most under stress. That is really nothing to be proud about. Say “no” more often and stop setting yourself up for poor health by feeling like the most successful people in life have the most on their plates. That is simply not so.
For those of you beyond the traditional “college age,” what is one life lesson you think is important to share with young women?12 Things I Want to Tell Every College-Aged Woman #life #bodypositive #healthyliving Click To Tweet