Oh, sophomore year. I write this with the biggest smile on my face. After the worst year of my life (thank you, freshman year of college), I finally had a school year where I didn’t have to pretend that life is good because it truly has been an amazing journey. I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone, made amazing new friends who I didn’t even expect to come into my life, laughed until I was on the ground, have seen my wildest dreams become a reality, and have had many days where I couldn’t believe that God was so gracious to give me these joyful moments. I could go on and on about how sophomore year of college changed my life for the better, but I end this spiel with a grateful heart and a list of fifteen lessons that the 2018-2019 school year taught me.
- Find your happiness in the things you do – not the people around you: I read this quote off of a friend’s post where she talked about overcoming her depression. As someone who has made the mistake of putting too much of my happiness in the hands of other people, I needed to hear those words. A handful of my problems are caused by a desire to receive happiness from other people and while our friends and family are supposed to bring us joy, it’s not their job to make us happy. Rather, we should create our own joy by doing the things we love and the rest will follow. It’s worth noting that our hobbies and passions won’t disappoint us even if the people around us do.
- Capture the mundane moments: As someone who loves it when life is at a high, it is difficult for me to be content when life is kind of meh. However, if there’s anything my one second a day app has taught me is that there is something magical in every day. I decided to put my entire sophomore year of college in a one-second-a-day montage and even on days that are so boring that I do not even want to do my one second, I still capture a tiny part of each day. Even though I’m not a fan of some of the seconds because of how boring those days are, when you combine it with the other seconds, all you see is beauty. And I think the same can be said about life, when you combine the ugly with the best parts, the beauty still has more of an impact.
- Just do it: There was a point during my sophomore year when I lived outlandishly. Things that I sat around and dreamed about became a reality. It took a lot of guts and sometimes it was downright embarrassing, but sometimes you just have to go for it. Better to have a hilarious story to tell instead of saying “I should’ve” or “what if?”
- Don’t compare your friendships: I’ve spoken to my mom about how unreasonable it is to expect your college friends to measure up to that same closeness as your high school friends. People may disagree with me on this one, but I firmly believe that true friendship takes time and must be tested before you can consider someone a real friend. College friendships are usually only a year old at this point so it is not fair to compare them to my high school friendships which have had years to get to where they are now. It is also worth noting that we have each of our friends for different reasons so no two friendships will ever be the same. Some of our friends get us on a level that our other good friends don’t and that’s okay.
- Allow yourself to feel: Last year I wore my heart (and my depression) on my sleeve and watched as people did not understand why I felt the way I did so I vowed that I wouldn’t be as transparent as I was last year. Because of that choice, I have become a master at hiding my true emotions to the point where I didn’t allow myself to feel anything during most of my second semester. After that experience of being numb, I realized that it’s better to feel too much than not at all. After all, you are not a robot. If you don’t allow yourself to feel, you won’t be able to heal. Don’t try to forcibly stop your emotions or blame yourself for feeling the way you do. All feelings are valid, even the ones that you wish you didn’t have.
- Too much idealization is detrimental: Whether it’s idealizing friendships, crushes, the future, you name it…getting caught up in your expectations and ideals will almost always be your downfall. During my second semester, I was super excited for this one thing that was happening in my life but when it didn’t go as planned, I lost all excitement for it and that ruined the whole experience because my expectations and ideals were not met. It’s okay to have ideals, but we must be open to the alternatives because life never goes the way we want it to.
- Guard your heart: One of my biggest mistakes this school year was that I did not guard my heart. I got to a point where I could not stop thinking about this one person and suddenly every conversation was about him (I do not recommend this when you have a crush). While this person did not end up breaking my heart, I realized that because I didn’t guard my own heart, I broke my own heart. From then on, I vowed never to let a crush get to that extremity because it’s not healthy nor is it good for you or the people around you.
- Say yes more often: One of my biggest mistakes as a teenager is that I barely left my house in high school and it takes a lot of effort for me to go to things I am invited to. I have missed countless events, games, and opportunities because of this attitude so now I ask myself what keeps stopping me? Each time I said yes to an invite during this school year, I ended up having a lot of fun and it makes me think of all the other fun times I could have had if I had just said yes more often. So say yes! Stop making excuses because that “yes” could lead you to one of the best memories of your life.
- Some parts of our lives are better kept private: We’ve all been there. Our life is so exciting that we want to share, to the point where we overshare. Again, this was another mistake I made this school year. I quickly realized that most people don’t have your best interests at heart and some are in it simply to get information out of you. It’s important to be picky about who you choose to disclose information to. Most people are just looking for gossip. Along the lines of staying private, it is worth noting that some of the best moments of my sophomore year have not been captured in pictures nor are they posted on any of my social media profiles because I want to savor the essence of those moments and keep them to myself. There’s a freedom that comes with keeping your life private so embrace it.
- You can’t give what you don’t have: I first heard this phrase on a retreat during my junior year of high school when I was down in the dumps (there seems to be a pattern here). If you don’t love yourself, how can you expect to give love to other people? If you don’t have money in your bank account, you cannot give money to someone else so why do we think we can give love to other people if we hate ourselves? In order to be able to give advice, love, joy, and all of these other wonderful gifts to others, we must have those gifts within us to be able to give to the people around us. If we lack self-love, we cannot expect someone to give it to us. If we are not joyful, we cannot expect to make other people happy if we do not have the capacity to give it.
- Seek the truth: During one of the lowest points of my life, I reached out to my friend for advice and told him everything I hated about myself and how I saw myself. He proceeded to tell me that what I’m seeing is a distortion of the truth and it’s not who I really am. Now, when I get upset and pick out my own flaws, I remind myself that sometimes what I see is so far from the truth and I must seek out the truth instead of listening to the lies that the devil tries to tell me. “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” Thanks, John 8:32 and UT tower.
- It’s okay to miss the past: It’s foolish to believe that the best days of our lives have already happened, but don’t beat yourself up over missing what life used to be like, especially if it was good. While I have done a better job of living in the present, I miss the past a lot and some days I miss it a little more than I should. I used to be ashamed of this because it seems like everyone else has moved on, but if the past was good to you, I don’t see what’s wrong with looking back at those memories with a fond heart and wanting to relive them. Just don’t get stuck replaying the same memories over and over because there are many more memories to be made!
- You can’t have it all: One of my toxic traits is my constant comparison of high school and college to gauge the better of the two. While it’s tempting to put one over the other, I realized that each has its own pros and its own cons. While college has been good to me in terms of my writing (I love you Spark Magazine), musical ability, & better opportunities, it has also been one of the most mentally draining, confusing, and often times loneliest experiences of my entire life. Similarly, in high school, I couldn’t be who I wanted to be, there was little room for growth, I hid my talents from the world, I didn’t have many friends yet I still felt warm, safe, loved and life was simpler. In conclusion, you can’t have it all. Each life stage has things that are better than the era that came before it, but it will also have its drawbacks. There is no such thing as a perfect utopia.
- Do the right thing: In a culture that promotes instant gratification and doing things that will make us feel “good” at the moment, it is easy to fall victim to the ways of the world and its empty promises. What people don’t tell you when they say to do the right thing is that often times, doing the right thing isn’t what everybody else is doing. Nobody ever said that doing the right thing was easy, they just promised it would be worth it. And it is. Deep down in your gut, you always know what the right thing to do is and if you opt for delayed gratification instead, you will be more fulfilled.
- Your time will come: One of my favorite aspects of life to obsess over is time and timing. There have been so many moments when I wished certain things happened sooner or later, but I always remind myself that God’s timing is perfect. This year, I wanted a boyfriend and I wanted a bunch of other things that God simply did not give to me. Patience has never been my strong suit, but I learned that things happen at the perfect time. You are never too early. You are not too late. You are right on time. It’s tough to keep encountering one closed door after another, but I trust that the right door will open when it’s time for me to have my moment whether that’s regarding my love life or my future career.
Je t’aime toujours sophomore year. Thanks for being the reason I can now communicate in four languages. Peace out Austin. See you in August for my last FULL year of college UT. 😉