4 Things I’ve Learned in College… & Things You Should Know Too

I’ve spent over a year in college in a state 1000 miles from home, and I have learned SO MUCH. I’ve cried all night and I’ve done embarrassing things I told myself I’d never do. I changed my major and my minor, I wear clothes I never would’ve been caught dead in a year ago, I still buy journals that I force myself to write in as much as I don’t want to. And through it all, there are a few important things that stick out to me as universals. READ ON….

1. No one is thriving. This is so so important. I’ve had countless conversations with friends at my school and friends at other schools and everyone is so stressed that they aren’t thriving like their friends are.

Newsflash: people choose what they put on social media.

No one posts photos on Instagram of a teary selfie at two am or the empty peanut butter jar they just totally binged on (which I am so not guilty of…). People snap photos of their friend group doing shots at the bar. People post photos on Instagram at the apple orchard with their sorority sisters. People tweet about how happy they are, because that’s what we want people to see. It’s uncomfortable to be open and raw and honest (god forbid the dreaded oversharing *gasp heard ’round the world*). We love it when other people love us, so of course we post the highlights! We want the best life with the best friends and the best boyfriend and therefore, the best photos to document it all.

But here’s what no one talks about: EVERYONE has shitty days that are not Insta-worthy. Sometimes, you have a shitty semester where pretty much nothing you do is Insta-worthy. Have you ever heard that saying where we get to see everyone else’s highlight reel, but we have to experience our behind-the-scenes? It’s like that with college. No one has it completely figured out and everyone has cried at four am because they’re overwhelmed with homework and stress and comparisons. No biggie.

2. Your fundamentals might change, and that’s okay. What do I mean by fundamentals? Things that you believe wholeheartedly are central to who you are and will never change no matter what life throws your way. Examples might be religious views, morals about drugs/alcohol, work ethic, glass-half-full-or-half-empty-type views, etc etc etc.

In my case, it’s all of the above and then some. I have two religious tattoos that I thought would mean the same thing to me for the rest of my life, but my understanding of myself and my world have shifted and I’ve found ways to adapt the meanings behind my tattoos to who I am now, as well as who I am becoming. However, they also symbolize a huge, important part of my life and who I am, so I think they’ll always mean something to me. That’s one example of something that I was one hundred percent convinced would not change about me, and I am living proof that you just never know.

People grow and people change, and no amount of prayer or mediation or journaling or research can prepare you for the change that is here and the change that is coming (trust me on this one). But isn’t that just a part of life–being kind of blown over and blown away by how awesome change is?

3. Heartbreak happens. Heartbreak is bound to happen, in all senses of the word. I have been heartbroken by pretty much everything that is able to break a heart, but I think that eventually heartbreak can be molded into something good (I say I think because sometimes I feel like I’m always in some stage of heartbreak??).

Last year, I experienced the worst heartbreak I’ve ever gone through to date. It coincided with a lot of other negative events with my friends, and I ended up withdrawing from my university (read about it here). This kind of heartbreak was the kind that sort of makes you feel like you’ll never love anyone else ever again because the risk of getting hurt is too great. It’s the kind that makes you question literally everything that happened in the relationship and what you could’ve done differently and why weren’t you good enough?!!! I spent a lot of time in a type of therapy called EDMR (read about that here) for the treatment of PTSD-like symptoms. I’ve learned SO much from that relationship and that time in my life, I feel like I could write five blog posts about that alone. But I’ll say this: heartbreaks suck and therapy helps and so does binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy. You will love again and you’ll find someone who makes you realize why it never worked out with anyone else.

Heartbreak isn’t just for romantic relationships, though.

Friend heartbreaks are definitely a thing. There are so many people in my life that have come and gone, and here’s what I’ve learned from those experiences: sometimes, people are only in your life for a season. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason (yes, everything). Maybe you had something to teach the other person, and maybe they had something to teach you. Maybe it was just for the joy of having a friend that the universe knew you needed in that season of your life. Maybe we’ll never know.

I also totally think that there’s other forms of heartbreak. I know that I miss Minnesota so much sometimes I can almost see my heart bleeding. I know that sometimes I hear a song that makes me remember something that makes my chest hurt. I know that sometimes I am so overjoyed with love for something that I almost can’t stand how tight my body feels at that moment. Heartbreak exists in a thousand forms, good and bad.

To sum it all up: heartbreaks are good and bad and everything in between. Use it as a learning experience and take as long as you need. (Sidenote: that thing people say about allotting only half the length the relationship was to “get over” the person? UNTRUE.)

4. Invest your money well. Identify that which makes you happiest. Is it concert tickets? Travel? Clothing? Starbucks? Find your thing(s) and allow yourself to spend money on it/them. We make money and have created the concept of money for a reason–to spend it. Ultimately, that is the purpose of having and saving and working. Isn’t that why we’re all hustling away in college right now anyway? We’re dropping literally thousands of dollars for a piece of paper that will allow us to make money. Yay for uplifting thoughts!!!

I splurge on a few things:

  • Coffee shops. I know that if I actually make the effort to go to a coffee shop off campus, I will sit and work for anywhere between two and six hours with my trusty black tea latte by my side. (Or laptop. Same thing.) It’s worth the $5 four times a week, in my mind. It’s the only way I know how to #college.
  • Fitness thingys. This one is definitely something I have to watch myself on… I JUST WANT ALL THE NICE YOGA PANTS!!! But I splurge on fitness plans that I know I will love (check out my faves here), protein powder, and B12/iron supplements, because I don’t eat meat and if I wanna get the #gainz, I gotta splurge on these items. Also, gad to get to the gym, lol.
  • Clean foods. I’ll probably be making a post about “clean” foods within the coming weeks, but essentially, I try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and whole grains. I also try to make it a priority to eat organic and locally-grown foods. These foods tend to be more expensive for a range of reasons, but I think it’s worth the extra money.
  • Clothes that I’ve been wanting for more than, like, a week. An example of this that comes to mind is a maroon jacket. I have wanted a maroon jacket for over a year now, and I finally found the #dream #jacket at Ragstock in August. You can bet I made that purchase! I love it and I wear it all the time because I knew I wanted it for a really long time.

Don’t feel guilty about spending money on the items that make you happy! I always ask myself if having something will actually improve my quality of life, and if I *genuinely* believe that it will (I don’t want momentary, fleeting happiness from material items), I make the purchase. Don’t second-guess yourself. You know yourself best!


We are on this crazy weird and incredibly emotional ride together. We all feel like we’re failing miserably and flailing in superdeep water that’s constantly dragging us down by the second. But hey, at least we are all having this human experience together, right? Life is weird but we don’t really have an option to not partake, so we might as well make mistakes and learn what we can from them.

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