I am sitting in larkburger on 16th Street in downtown Denver and as I look back on the past eight months of my life, I am blown away. I am blown away by the unimaginable highs–the people and places and experiences that I never thought I would be even close to having. I am blown away by the incredible lows–disappointments and falls. I am still in a place of confusion and relative dark, but as I reflect on this absolutely crazy year, I am grateful for my experiences in Denver. I have met incredible people, I have been challenged, and I have completely changed, to the core of who I am. I am by no means the same person I was eight months ago–I am not the same person I was even two months ago. And there are some (very important and also very minor) things I’ve learned along the way, so I suppose I am writing this for my friends who are about to start this incredible journey. Here is my unadulterated list of things I learned.
- I think my biggest regret from this year is getting into a relationship right away. I was not looking for a serious relationship so soon, but I did it anyway, and I wish that I had not. In my experience, it really did not help me grow into the person I wanted to be. He already had a life here, with friends and a routine, and I built my life here with him. So when we broke up, I felt kind of lost because I didn’t know how to even live here without him. Don’t get me wrong, I loved him and I am glad that I met him, but I wish that I had waited a little before jumping headfirst into a committed relationship.
- Be willing to stretch your morals. I came into college thinking I wasn’t going to drink or experiment with anything, because I didn’t in high school. And if you don’t want to, that is so perfectly okay. But I felt very guilty every time I wanted to try something new, because I wanted to stick to my preset list of morals, and I kind off ended up just feeling bad all the time. But as soon as I decided it was okay for me to try new things or break my perfect morals, I stopped feeling bad and started having more fun.
- By that line of thought, don’t get too caught up in the thought that college is supposed to be the best few years of your life. I was so concerned with having FUN ALL THE TIME that I wasn’t having fun anymore. Don’t listen to shit about “finding yourself” or “stretching yourself” or whatever people say. Of course those things are important, but it comes while you are just doing you. Don’t get caught up in asking yourself if you are finding yourself or if you are growing or changing or anything like that. Just live your life, and those things come.
- I was constantly feeling like I was missing out. On parties or events downtown or camping trips or anything. Being happy in the moment and accepting that I was enjoying myself was really difficult for me, because I felt like there was always something more exciting happening somewhere else. And I am still working on this. But accepting that I am happy right where I am has been so good, and sure, there probably are cooler things happening elsewhere, but I am here, and I am happy.
- If your friends start to get involved with things that you are uncomfortable with and it starts to affect you, it’s okay to leave. A little uncomfortability is okay, but if it begins to affect you in a negative way, it is so okay to leave the situation or even the friendship. For me, I got very uncomfortable when people close to me got into drugs I wasn’t familiar with or started getting blackout drunk night after night, because I felt responsible for taking care of them. It’s okay to put distance between you and someone else. Love from a distance is okay.
I have learned so much more this year but these themes are so evident, especially right now, when I am on a leave of absence. I still don’t know where I will be next year I am learning to be okay with the questions.