The Freshman 15: What I’ve Learned (Year 2)

After a year of writing about all things college-related, I would like to celebrate my 12 months of Freshman 15 entries with a follow-up to my very first college post from my old blog, The Freshman 15: What I’ve Learned. Throughout my sophomore year, I have experienced a new set of successes and challenges, and I hope to share everything I have learned this year with you.

Thank you all for giving me a wonderful year for writing! Here are 15 of the lessons I learned in my sophomore year of college.Tweet this!

The Freshman 15: What I’ve Learned (Year 2)

1. Don’t put dish soap in the dishwasher…
… Unless you want soap suds all over your kitchen! Oops. This was a mistake I made a few weeks ago, when my roommates and I had run out of dish detergent. The moral to the story: even when you think you’ve begun to master the art of being a domestic goddess, you’re wrong. There will always be some little mistake that will humble you.

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2. Friendships don’t always turn out as predicted.
In fact, when I wrote the original Freshman 15, I couldn’t have predicted half of the things that were about to happen in the next year. While I did gain some very close friendships that seemed unlikely at the time (but for which I’m extremely grateful, of course!), I also lost a few that really stung. In the end, it’s important to be careful with who you place your trust in, and accept the fact that things may change in the future.

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3. Extra credit can be your best friend.
If your professor offers some sort of extra credit assignment, DO IT. By skipping out on one extra credit assignment in a psychology class in the fall, I managed to give my GPA its first minor blemish. It wasn’t the end of the world, of course, but I was not a happy camper, to say the least. By going the extra mile, you can sometimes salvage a borderline grade or even give yourself a bit of a cushion in case you mess up a little on a test later in the semester.

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4. Discipline is key.
The only way you can really manage your time and get all of your assignments completed is by being disciplined. This means sometimes staying home from a night out with friends so that you can finish a paper, or bringing a homework assignment to lunch with you, or even keeping a million alarms on your phone. Whatever it takes for you to be productive, you have to bite the bullet and do it.

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5. You can’t be or do everything.
College is probably the most exciting time for opportunities, and I encourage you to take part in as many of them as you can. However, as I’ve learned this year, there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything you want to do. As Director of Fundraising for one of the clubs I’m in, web developer for a research group, PR intern, member of various clubs and full-time student, there have been times when my schedule felt too heavy. On top of that, because of my heavy involvement, I would hear about other opportunities that appealed to me, and it was difficult not to apply for them. Ultimately, you have to know your limits, and don’t sign up for anything you can’t commit to. I knew students who dabbled in everything but never fully committed to anything, and it became frustrating for both them and the people they had to work with. Find a few things you love and stick to those.

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6. Attend functions alone.
Yes, college gives you the chance to be a social butterfly, but sometimes it is much better to go to events by yourself. I love my friends, but when I want to go to an educational event like the Book Festival or an ad agency tour or some event with keynote speakers, I want to be able to schedule my time however I choose, without having to compromise with someone else. Going to an event by yourself not only gives you the freedom to do as you please, but it also allows you to meet new people with similar interests, reconnect with others and learn about yourself.

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7. Going home is never quite the same.
Ever since my first summer away at school, my family has told me how much I have changed. I knew that college tends to change the dynamic between you and your parents, but that fact never fails to surprise me a little every time I come home. I also notice huge changes between myself and old friends from high school, and although some of those friendships are built to last, I can see that others will easily falter. Being back home is a huge reminder of how much things have changed.

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8. 5-Hour Energy can have delayed effects.
On Sunday, I finally gave in to the pressure of surplus energy. I have never tried an energy drink before, and I don’t drink coffee or soda, but all of my friends were getting their caffeine somehow, so why couldn’t I? I took a shot of 5-Hour Energy at 8 p.m. (first mistake) and then didn’t feel the effects till around 1 a.m., when it was too late for me to regain any of my productivity. The good news: I woke up the next morning with tons of energy to power me through the day. The bad news: the three hours of sleep I did squeeze in probably wasn’t healthy. In the end, 5 Hour Energy was not a great alternative.

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9. The thing you wanted most isn’t always what you wanted it to be.
Unfortunately, some of your expectations will fall short. Maybe the class you were dying to take just isn’t cutting it for you, or maybe the club you have been trying to get involved with isn’t the place you want to be anymore. Be open to those feelings and realize that even if this isn’t what you want, there’s always something else.

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10. Plan as much as you can, but allow changes.
It’s good to have a basic mental outline of where you want to go in the next four years, but don’t be upset if you begin to deviate from that path. I enrolled in college as a Journalism major who then considered Psychology, English, Creative Writing, Sociology, Elementary Education, Anthropology and Humanities before eventually switching over to Advertising/Public Relations with minors in Psychology and Spanish-turned-English-turned-possibly-Hospitality-Management. In other words, your interests might change. Your academic and career plans might change. Have ideas, but have back-up plans too.

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11. It’s okay to stop and breathe.
This is something that the perfectionist in me often struggles with, but one of the most important things I have worked on. It doesn’t matter where you find that inner-peace, whether it’s through yoga and meditation, an intense workout at the gym or a creative release, as long as you can find something to keep you grounded.

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12. Perfection is impossible.
This one goes hand-in-hand with #11. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how strong or competent or intelligent you are — you will still mess up from time to time. Accept those mistakes as they come, and try to learn whatever you can from them. As Confucius once said, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Only do our true colors show when we are put to the test.

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13. Be good to others, whether they deserve it or not.
I have always lived by this, even though many of my friends disagree with me to an extent and think I should act on my frustrations a little more. Still, I refuse to stoop down to someone’s level just because they have wronged me in the past. I think it’s better to be cordial than to seek revenge on someone; chances are, they don’t have much going for them to begin with!

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14. Don’t let your relationships define you.
I’ve said this before, but it is important to recognize yourself as a separate entity and not as an appendage to someone else. I spent my first year and a half of college focused on relationships, spending way more time focusing on boys and friends than on myself. Sadly, it’s only a matter of time before someone will disappoint you — and it’s important to have something else going for you aside from all of that. Don’t ignore the world of dating and don’t neglect your friends, either, but do make time to do the things you love and to better yourself. It’s one of the most valuable things you can do.

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15. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.
(Yes, that’s part of a possible Marilyn Monroe quote.) I thought I had the perfect freshman year. My sophomore year was a lot rockier and I am definitely happy to be done with it in the next few days. But I have to remind myself that all of the negative things that happened this year have allowed me to grow and make room for better things in the future. Above all else, we have to have hope that even when the year absolutely sucks, things will eventually improve.

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Some questions for you:

– What have you learned this year?
– What are you still wondering/struggling with?
– What do you hope to read about in the future? 

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