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Here’s What I Learned In College About Life

College is that part of our lives that a lot of us look forward to. It’s a space that signifies that we’re nearly ready to face the world. But not completely so. College teaches all of us some very important lessons that we were too young or immature to understand in school.

College is that time of our lives when it’s okay for us to be adventurous and a little carefree. School may have taught me my ABCs and 123s, but what I learned in college will help me survive the real world; these are lessons that will stay with me till the very end. They’re as important as the memories we make during these years, and make life in the real world a little bit easier.

Suggested read: 16 REAL Struggles Of Entering The Corporate World Straight Out Of College

With just a year of college left, I realized that I’ve grown more as a person in these two years than I did ever before. I’ve had greater (both in terms of quality and quantity) experiences in these two years than I did in all my school life. Whether it was organizing large scale events, or representing my college in various competitions across the country, or making friends with people whose ideals and beliefs are vastly different from mine, or falling in love at a time I least expected to; each and every one of these experiences have taught me something about life and myself.

Following is a list of some of the lessons that college has taught me:

  1. Grades do not define your intellect

 woman reading_New_Love_Times

Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License 

All through our academic life in school we were taught to focus on our grades above everything else. That’s what ultimately matters and makes or breaks us, we were told. Percentages and grades defined our intellectual standing in the class and sometimes even outside of it. I remember how we were told not to mix with the “bad students” because their influence would bring down our grades. It wasn’t until I joined college that I realized how irrelevant grades are when it comes to defining one’s intelligence. I considered myself to be a fairly decent student in terms of grades when I was at school; when I went to college I met people who were far more intelligent and well read than I  was, and their grades weren’t even close to what one would describe as perfect. Their performance in class tests and exams might leave a lot to be desired, but a single conversation with them will prove how learned they actually are. It sounds crazy and quite implausible, but it just goes on to show that grades aren’t the be all and end all of your academic life.

What I learned in college is that there is so much to learn outside of the books prescribed in our syllabus and there will always be someone out there who knows a little more than us. Knowledge is infinite, so keep your mind open and never stop learning.

2. Don’t just focus on academics

 woman exercise stairs_new_love_times

Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

No doubt your academics are important, but there is a whole world outside of it waiting for you to discovered. Since most colleges have relatively fewer restrictions than schools, it is easier for students to pursue their hobbies or take up part-time jobs. Make use of these opportunities. Maybe you can take an acting workshop or work as a research apprentice for a project you’re really interested in or write a blog regularly. Things like these are just as important as the syllabus of our courses for intellectual stimulation and growth. Even having a conversation with someone about politics or poetry or any subject that falls outside the purview of your syllabus does a good job at widening your mental horizons.

3. Practice humility

When I got through the college that I dreamed of getting into, I was obviously very proud of myself. I won’t lie, there was a small part of me that began to consider myself superior to others around me. Kill that part of you before it  grows any further. Be humble because that will help you get through these few years of college. You don’t want to be the snob who pretends to know everything and is always patronizing of everyone else. Humility will help you make long lasting friendships, good rapport with your professors, and will make you approachable to your peers, seniors as well as juniors.

4. You are not special

 Happy Woman

Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

The environment in school is mostly very guarded and secure; teachers pay attention to every child, and parents too remain invested in our lives. What I learned in college is that things are quite the opposite here. You’re now a grown up and you’re on your own. Of course we’ll still have our parents and loved ones looking out for us, but our interactions outside of that circle depend entirely on us. In a way, this feeling of self-dependence and freedom to act on our own terms is obviously a refreshing change from all those years of constant monitoring; but for some of us, this feeling is accompanied with the realization that we aren’t special. Of course, credit will be given where it’s due but the number of people looking out for us slowly keeps decreasing as we grow older. There are now more people out there waiting to put us down, and walk over our hard work. The sooner we accept this sad truth, the better off we will be and the sooner we will learn to fend for ourselves.

Suggested read: Unlearning The Life Lessons: 11 ‘Truths’ I Had To Do Away With In My 20s Because They Were LIES

5. It’s okay to make mistakes

Since college acts as this buffer period between childhood and the real world, you can allow yourself to make mistakes because that space and time for rectification is something you can afford at this stage. Be open to new experiences; it may not always work out in your favor but at least you will have tried something. Open yourself up to new art, people and places; not all of them will turn out the way you expected them to, but maybe this is how you’ll find home. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because this is how you will find who you truly are.

6. People aren’t always who we think they are

This is one of the harder lessons to learn and can be the cause of great sorrow but sometimes that’s exactly what we need to survive. The friendships you make in college might not always pan out the way you expected them to. Sometimes the people we thought were our friends turn out to be the exact opposite. It hurts and it makes us bitter and distrustful and cynical, but trust me when I say this  that, there are good people out. All you have to do is look out for them.

7. Be comfortable in your own company

 Woman with Headphones

Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

College won’t always be all fun and games, the way it is portrayed in the movies. Sometimes, you will get lonely and the only person you will have is yourself. Learn to be comfortable in your own skin. There is nothing wrong in spending all afternoon at the library catching up on some reading, or going for a movie on your own or having a meal by yourself. You are your greatest ally, and sometimes that’s all you need to have a good life. Fill yourself up with love and compassion and joy instead of searching for its traces in others.

8. Don’t be so hard on yourself

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Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

Yes, it is important to work hard and build your CV and do umpteen number of internships and publish academic papers and whatnot. But you know what else is also important? Your mental and physical health. Don’t burn yourself out before the real deal begins. It’s okay to pause everything for a while to just relax and do the things you want to. Treat yourself from time to time, you deserve it. And remember to breathe.

 Suggested read: So I Penned A Letter To My Future Self…

In conclusion, surviving college isn’t always the easiest thing in the world, but the memories and friends we make along the way make it all worth it, no matter how few in number those may be. There will be times when you will fall, and times when you won’t know how to stand back up. But remember that there will also be moments of laughter, friendship and a strange feeling of peace. At the end of it all, there’s a kind of a bittersweet feeling about the fact that we won’t ever be young again, but also a feeling of solace in the memories and lessons we carry with us for the rest of our lives.

Here, we measure time in songs
And count cigarette butts instead of stars
We’re too young to pay the bills
And too old to play hopscotch
Yet somehow we’ve convinced ourselves
That we’re capable of doing both.
We’re afraid of the dark
But impatient for the sunrise.
We’re fond of the colors
But somehow we end up lost in gray areas.
We’re desperate to get out.
And scared to let go.
We celebrate friendship
But are too scared to lose ourselves in love
Not realizing that sometimes
They mean the same thing.
We climb up countless stairs because the
View on top is breathtaking
But the anticipation of the feel keeps us breathless all night.
We spent our whole life searching for Neverland
We forget that gravity pulls us all in at the end anyway.
We’re a strange bunch of people
Then why do we keep getting stuck into the loop of the Ordinary?
We’re stuck in a limbo
Between childhood and growing up,
And somehow this is where we found
What it means to be truly alive.

Featured image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License 

Article Name
Here's What I Learned In College About Life
School may have taught me my ABCs and 123s, but what I learned in college will help me survive the real world; these are lessons that will stay with me till the very end.
Sanjukta Bose

Sanjukta Bose

I'm 18 years old. I enjoy reading, writing, and watching good movies. I'm passionate about words, food, and music. I'm slightly introverted but I enjoy the company of people too. On weekends, I like to stay up all night reading poetry. Slightly awkward with a nihilistic sense of humor.