I graduated high school in 2011 and at now, at 23, am finally about to walk across that graduation stage.
In the timeline of standard college life, I should have already graduated and moved on by now. But, as it stands, I'm exactly a year behind the rest of my high school friends.
If you had asked me 5 years ago if I would be in this position, I would have laughed. I was an overachiever in high school. I wanted to be the best. That competitive nature caught up with me when I moved away to school and I started to slip.
I wasn't smarter than my classmates, but average. I wasn't the best singer in choir, just good. And that hurt me, for whatever nonsensical reason. Combine that with compound illnesses and struggling to make friends, I did something I had never done up to that point: I started to fail.
Even now, 5 years removed, I can't pinpoint exactly what went wrong. I do know that if I could come back in time, I would shake my 18-year-old self, whip her into shape, and share these reflections from that time.
1. Your parents are not the enemy. Yes, they are frustrating. Yes, sometimes they are far from helpful. But they are not the enemy.
2. You don't have to be the best.
3. You don't have to be the smartest.
4. There will always people who are better than you. But that doesn't mean you give up trying to be the best. Just don't get discouraged in the process.
5. It's perfectly okay to miss your high school friends.
6. It's even more okay to make new ones.
7. Lying doesn't help anyone. Tell the truth. Even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts.
8. Get out of bed. Yes, you're sick. Yes, life sucks. Yes, it's all horrible. Get out of bed anyway.
9. Don't wait until it's too late to ask for help. But also, don't just take the medicine the med clinic gives you without checking into it.
10. Walk around campus for a few minutes and let it soak in that you attend Auburn University. That's a big deal. Don't forget it.
11. It's okay that you don't know what you're going to do with your life.
12. Get involved in something you're actually passionate about. If you have to force it, it's not worth it.
13. Don't commit to something if you're not going to be able to follow through. It makes you look bad and feel bad.
14. You don't need to have or do what everyone else is doing.
15. There's no reason to go home or out every weekend.
16. Don't spend all of your Tigercard money at Starbucks. It's tempting, but it's not worth it.
17. Take some time to turn everything off and be alone with your thoughts.
18. Go for a walk. Go for a bike ride. Go to the gym. Join a fitness class. Do something that makes your endorphins happy. It'll make you feel better.
19. You don't need a boyfriend. You especially do not need to be in a relationship with guys who don't care about you.
20. Make an appointment with your advisor. Often. They know how to get you to graduation.
21. If you have to take some time off, it doesn't mean you aren't cut out for college. Take time to make sure you know what is important to you.
22. Don't blow all your spending money buying Kindle books. Seriously. You need to read the assigned reading.
23. You made it this far. Don't forget who you are, or where you came from. And always remember to love yourself.
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