I took my last two finals on Monday and moved back home yesterday (which involved more stairs and boxes than I ever want to see again). After completing the busiest semester of my life, I’m ready for a much-needed winter break packed with travel, holiday festivities, and lots of cookies. But before I dive headfirst into a Netflix marathon, I wanted to take a step back and reflect on all of the lessons I learned outside of the classroom this semester. Here are seven of my biggest lessons from this past fall!
You don’t know what you’re capable of until you try.
When I looked at my schedule for this semester (six classes, five clubs, a job, an internship), I thought I would break, or go insane, or fail at everything. Instead, I made it out alive—with a 4.0 in tow. If I had shied away and dropped a class or taken fewer hours at my job, I wouldn’t have realized my full potential, or learned that you really can accomplish anything you set your mind to if you put in a little hard work.
It’s okay to ask for help.
In fact, it’s a necessity—you just can’t do everything all by yourself. I’m an incredibly independent person, and I hate admitting my shortcomings, but this semester has shown me that, while I am fully capable of some incredible things, I couldn’t accomplish nearly as much if I were juggling it all on my own. I’ve had to swallow my pride and reach out for help more times than I can count, but I’ve never regretted it.
Your past will shape you, but do not let it be your sole defining factor.
Last year, I spent a lot of time thinking about how far I’d come from high school, and the obstacles I faced (and still am facing). But, dwelling on the past and letting it define me did nothing for my personal development. It’s important to learn from your past, but it’s also important move on and focus on your present and how you can better yourself now, in this moment.
Surround yourself with people who believe in you.
I can’t stress how important it is to fill your life with people who not only want you to succeed, but genuinely believe that you will succeed. I’ll be the first to admit—I have some pretty crazy dreams. But, my loved ones never fail to encourage and support me in all of my endeavors, and I don’t know where I’d be without their unending positivity. Especially on days when I’m filled with self-doubt and am second-guessing my future, my friends and family (hi, mom) remind me that my dreams are possible and that I will succeed.
Strive to be as authentic as possible.
Being authentic—truly being yourself—is easier said than done. With so many outside influences telling us who we should be, it’s difficult to figure out who we are. This is another case of “advice I didn’t understand until I was meant to,” which is to just be yourself. Don’t try to be like anyone else, or pretend to be something you’re not, or hide parts of yourself—that’s boring, tiresome, and pointless. Simply be you—your best, most unabashed self.
Do things for yourself.
You don’t need anyone’s permission to do anything—if you want to do something, just do it. And most importantly, do it for yourself. Don’t do it for the likes or because your friends think it’s cool—do it simply because you want to. Don’t worry about what other people will think, or what you’ll miss out on if you do it (#fomo). If you think it will make you a happier person, a better person, then take that leap into the unknown and do it.
For most of my life, I’ve feared change. I would do everything I could to prevent it and maintain a safe, comfortable stasis. But being safe gets you nowhere, and lately, I’ve gone out of my way to change things about my life—my hairstyle, my wardrobe, even my city. Change is exciting. It teaches you things about yourself you’d never learn otherwise. Changes can be tiny or they can be massive, but they’re always freeing, thrilling, and surprising.
What are some lessons you’ve learned this semester? Let me know in the comments below!
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