1. You Can’t Prepare For Everything.
Things are going to happen.
This was a lesson I learned in my first few days. There will be fire alarms at 7 AM, random parent drop-ins, and other assorted mini-crises. If you try and prepare for all of them, the universe is just going to find the one thing you didn’t think of anyways. And besides, all that worrying is a sure-fire way to burn yourself out.
2. If You Expect It To Be Like High School, You’ll Be Disappointed.
Look, I did well in high school. I was on honor roll all four years and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. I’m not telling you this to brag; I’m telling you this because even then, I had no clue what I was doing for most of my first term. In all honesty, I’d grown used to being one of the “smart kids”, and the first week of classes was a real reality check for me. Suddenly, I was surrounded by kids who, to be blunt, knew a lot more things and have read a lot more books than I ever have. It was a pretty sizable blow to my academic confidence, and it took a fair amount of getting used to.
Just because you were smart in high school doesn’t mean you’re going to be just as smart now. There are a lot of very intelligent people in a university; you’re only going to be one of them. And if you’re going to do well, you have to through all your preconceptions out the window.
3. Things Might Not Turn Out The Way You Want Them To.
Maybe you came to university thinking you were going to be captain of a club, or join this team. Maybe you wanted a position on student or faculty council. The problem is, some things just aren’t going to work out. There is no sure-fire way to make sure everything goes right. It sucks. But the great thing about university is that you’re going to discover a whole lot of things that will turn out, too. And the ones that do will be just that much sweeter.
4. You Have To Create Your Own Relationships.
One of the biggest problems I had when I first got settled into university is that beyond frosh week, it can be pretty hard to make friends. I get it—the life of a university kid is busy. But I started noticing more and more that unless I made myself explicitly available—e.g. by going to lots of parties or actively seeking out people—very few people were interested in getting to know me.
This sounds pretty negative. But the truth is, it was probably a good thing because it made me cherish the friends I still have and forced me to become more outgoing than I would normally be.
So, long lesson short: if you want to get to know someone, you’re going to have to put in the effort yourself.
5. Confidence Comes From You.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have the greatest self-confidence.
I never have. And honestly, I don’t know many people who do. But I have learned to become a lot more accepting of myself, and that’s because I’ve started to believe in myself. Which brings me to my next point:
6. If You Don’t Believe In Yourself, No One Will.
The only person who can really tell you how much you’re worth is you. Not your peers, your grades, or your teachers. Only you. And if you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else? Ask yourself this: if you were interviewing someone for a job and they told you that they didn’t think they’d be a good employee, would you hire them?
I’m not trying to be mean here; I’m just trying to make a point. If you don’t show people that you have confidence in yourself, that’s going to translate. People will notice if you walk into a room and avoid everyone’s eyes, or if you keep your head up and smile at them. If you have to fake it, for now, that’s okay. Because eventually, it might become real.
Alex C. Wyatt