I remember the feeling when I waved goodbye to my parents as they left me at college. The opportunities. The possibilities. The freedom. And then came the mistakes.

Sleeping in and missing a class (or two). Having too much to drink at a party and totally throwing up on a cop’s shoes. Getting a D on a test. Pledging a fraternity and within three weeks dropping out. Running for a position on student government and losing, by a lot. There were times where I felt overwhelmed. Times when stress took over and I just wanted to sleep. Times when I felt like I just couldn’t do “college” right.

Then I realized there’s no right or wrong way to “college” – you just have to experience it.

Looking back there are a ton of things I would tell myself to do differently. But then I wouldn’t have learned as much. Learned about myself and my worth, about my abilities and my potential, about life and relationships. We’ve all failed. Being in college is about failing (hopefully not in classes though – you need to get that degree).

As a total comic nerd there’s an amazing line in Avengers: Endgame when Thor is talking with his mom and she tells him:

“Everyone fails at who they’re supposed to be. A measure of a person, of a hero, is how well they succeed at being who they are.”

You see that’s the thing – too many of us try to be something we aren’t. We are not perfect, and that’s amazing. We all have failures – and it’s time to own them and learn from them.

All of this being said, with the start of the academic year right around the corner, I thought I provide some anecdotal pieces of advice. Take it or leave it, but you’re the one still reading so you must be relating to something I am saying:

  • Surround yourself with good people.
    I had some great friends in college that would put me in check when I needed it. They would lend me a shoulder when I was having a hard time. They would laugh with me to make awkward feel normal. They would share stories at 3am at Waffle House just because. Friends make life easier, and then you realize you’re not alone.
  • Get involved in something.
    Usually at the start of the year there’s some sort of involvement fair with a plethora of clubs. It’s an extrovert’s dream and an introvert’s nightmare. However, take a look and test the waters on one or two groups. But remember to dive deep, don’t wade.
  • Fail with intent.
    Seems odd that I might tell you to intentionally fail, but hear me out – when you fail, you learn. So, take some risks, take chances, go down in a ball of flame because you failed so bad. Then pick yourself up, see what lessons you can learn, and take one step forward. That’s life.
  • Be who you are, not who others want you to be.
    For years I tried to be who I thought others wanted me to be, and it was exhausting. Only by being the truest version of yourself will you find more enjoyment out of life.

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