Lessons At The Midpoint

I can’t believe the first half of the “best four years of my life” are already over.

College goes by so quickly, and we often get so caught up in everything that we’re doing that we don’t even realize it. If you’re like me, and are just now having this crazy revelation that life is really short, I think it’s a great time to reflect on what you’ve learned so far.

The past two years haven’t been perfect, but I’ve certainly learned a lot that can be applied to the next two years (and beyond). so, to complement Thomas’ lessons he learned from turning 21, here are a few of the things I’ve been reflecting on lately–some are about school, some are about life at large, and some are just random yet powerful lessons.

“Next Semester” is Sooner Than You Think

Procrastination has caught up with all of us at one point or another, and we’ve had to face the repercussions. We momentarily kick ourselves, fix the situation as best as we can, resolve to never procrastinate again–and then of course, do it all over.

Sound familiar? I’ve had a bad habit of always putting things off till “next semester”, as a way to give myself some buffer room before having to make a change. Next semester I’ll study more, next semester I’ll go to more office hours, next semester I won’t sleep in as much… the list could go on forever.

While at the time I think I’m setting future goals, what I’m really doing is just putting off things that I could do now. A traditional undergraduate education translates to just eight semesters for many of us, and come September, I’ll only have three more chances to say “next semester” before I run out of semesters.

So remember to keep time in perspective.

Don’t Put More Time Into a Relationship Than the Other Person Does

Making connections with people is an incredibly important part of college, whether that be your roommates, classmates, advisors, or professors. But make sure that every one of these connections is worth your time.

Some relationships, such as that with your academic advisor, can’t be avoided or modified. But some, like those with your friends, are largely within your control. Four years is too short of a time to be wasted on people who don’t reciprocate the kind of connection that you want to make. It’s a fairly simple lesson, but one that’s a whole lot easier said than done.

If You’re Going to Fry Your Hair, at Least Make Sure the Iron is Ceramic

It took me six years to truly realize that a straightening iron has the power to completely transform my hair, in both very good and very bad ways.

The value of ceramic flat irons is something I learned the very hard way, and I could have saved myself not only years of heat damage but also probably thousands of strands of hair if I’d made the switch to ceramic sooner. Ladies, if you’ve got non-ceramic hair tools sitting on your dresser, please throw them out right now. Ceramic tools cost more, but are so worth it.

This may sound frivolous to many of you, but for me my new CHI is a constant reminder of how much heat damage I’m avoiding from now on.

It’s Okay if Your Biggest Passion Isn’t Your Major

There’s nothing in the world that gives me a greater high than writing. But as much as I love it, it’s not something that I could ever possibly study or make a career out of (I’ve written more about my reasoning on this on my personal blog).

Currently I’m studying environmental engineering, with plans to go into environmental law or policy in the future. While it’s a subject that I’m certainly very interested, it doesn’t hold my attention or get me going quite as my writing does. And that’s okay.

I’ve grappled with this quite a lot lately, but the truth is that none of us truly know where we’re headed in the future. So many people wind up in careers completely different from what they had studied or planned, and they’re still doing great.

Having passions separate from your major is actually incredibly valuable–it adds additional dimensions to your personality, enriches your understanding, and provides you with something to do in your “free time”.

We’d like to think we have all the time in the world to do everything we want, but time is limited. Once in a college interview, I was asked what superpower I would want if I could choose just one, and why. I chose having the ability to never be tired or have to sleep, because that’s seven or eight more hours every day at least that I could use toward something more “productive”.

I think back to that answer a lot (mostly as a way to motivate myself to get out of bed on lazy mornings), and remember that superpowers are “super” mainly because they aren’t real. But real life is pretty cool too, if you remember to slow down once in a while and really enjoy the time that you have.

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For those of you who are past your sophomore year, what lessons have you learned during the first half of college?

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