Monday, August 25, 2014

Thoughts on Starting College

My baby brother left for college last week. He called me the morning he left home, and through my unexpected tears, I tried to impart as much wisdom as I could give him while still enjoying the few moments we had to share at the time. I talked to him about trying to make friends with people, and to not judge, because you never know who will really be your best friends. I reminded him that I loved him, and that I was proud of him, and to never forget that. I let him know that if he had any problems with his RA to call me (this is the helicopter sister coming out in me, and knowing how things SHOULD be with an RA :P).

As we hung up the phone, I had other thoughts and so much more advice to give him. I began to write them down, and thus this blog post was born. Here is the advice that has been going around in my head and my heart the last few days. Some is more serious than others, but I feel that it is all important!

Get to know your professors and TAs

  • Be humble enough to ask for help. They are there to help. When you put forth effort, it shows! Take their advice, and be teachable.
  • While being teachable, you will also want to be confident in the things you know to be true. Don't feel like you have to change everything to impress them.
  • Take advantage of office hours! They are there for a reason. Even if it is to quickly clarify something, use the campus resources available to you!
Make eye contact with people
  • It seems like we have turned into a society of ear buds and ignoring others. As you are going around campus, make eye contact and smile at people in passing. You never know what your smile can mean to that person
Take some classes just for fun
  • Some of my favorite classes were just for fun, just because, and I LOVED them! You don't know what one class can do to change your outlook on life, or the direction of your life
  • You can meet people that you wouldn't normally meet because they aren't in your 'regular' classes. 
Take time to find yourself
  • I think we all need to be doing this throughout our lives, but the start of college is a great way to really start to hone this skill. 
  • It is a time of change-allow the change! We are scared to not be who we are comfortable being, but as we allow for the changes a little at a time, we get to know ourselves in a new way and can really like the improved person.
  • It is a time of discovery. People don't know who you were before, and you may have been trying to fit into a mold or the expectations of others. Take the time to discover who you truly are as you strip away the titles and roles that you have lived up to until this point in life. Enjoy the journey of discovery.
  • HOWEVER, it's also more than okay to keep parts of yourself. Embrace the things you love about yourself and magnify your awesomeness. Don't feel like you have to go crazy just because you have this new found freedom and opportunity to redefine yourself. 
Be open, but don't overexpose yourself
  • This may sound a little sketchy, but I mean it in the most appropriate way possible!
  • Be sure to let people in, and let them get to know you, BUT not everyone needs to know everything
  • There are parts of yourself that are special and personal and even sacred. Not everyone has earned, or deserves to know the deepest parts of  you right off the bat. 
  • There are some things I have shared with very few people in my life, and that is okay. I see it as a good indication of how close I am with someone, and how much we have grown together.
College is different from high school
  • Duh. :D
  • You are the one responsible for your own learning. Parents aren't there to remind you to do your homework every day. You need to have the discipline to set the time aside each day to work on school things.
  • It will take more time out of class than you think. 
  • Planners can really be your best friend as you schedule things out. That's the beauty of getting the syllabus at the start of a class! You know what to expect, due dates, everything for the semester.
  • You have to become a self-studier. This is when learning to say "no" to all the fun college things will come in handy. All-nighters are not all they are cracked up to be, believe me.
  • Tests are not only on things learned in class. Textbooks are like a separate session.
Celebrate the little things
  • Sometimes, the little things REALLY need to be celebrated.
    • Getting a double digit percentage on some tests really is a celebration
    • Rocking a cleaning check-celebrate!
    • Random holidays-celebrate! (One of my favorite years of college was the one that we celebrated random holidays with weirdly connected celebrations, like playing leapfrog and eating grasshopper cookies on leap day.)
There are always people in your corner
  • There are more people than you realize cheering you on.
  • We are only a phone call away
  • We will pick up the phone
  • You don't have to go through things alone.
  • We may be a challenge at times, but we are also your biggest supporters and will go to the mat for you all the time
  • We love you!
The Community Progression Model is a real thing
  • All relationships and communities progress through different stages. We start off in a pseudo community, then we have chaos (where we start to see differences). We then have the option to be open or closed about these differences, which leads to a healthy or closed community.
  • This is not a solid, one time occurrence.
  • As you develop, you will go back and forth through this model. It is such a healthy thing to do.
  • One of the things I say every year with my new students is "Celebrate Chaos!" It means you are getting to a deeper level of a relationship, and it is getting real! yay!
The cafeteria is a wonderland!
  • There will come a day when everything looks like it has already seen it's heyday, but that just lends to the creative juices!
  • Find new food combinations.
  • Don't worry about people judging your edible experiments.
  • Find new ways of eating food you love!
This last thought is the most personal and so important:

Develop true, one-on-one relationships with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ
  • You may feel like you are alone at times, but our Heavenly Father is always there, as is Jesus Christ.
  • They know how you feel.
  • They will always listen.
  • They can guide you.
  • It is a time for you to truly develop a relationship with them. You need to be able to know for yourself what you mean to them. You need to ask questions through prayer and listen for answers. Answers will come in different ways and at times you may not expect, but I know the answers will come.
  • Questioning is okay, but you also need to truly strive to get the answers you are seeking.
  • Allow yourself to live up to the divinity that is within you. You have amazing potential that you cannot be scared of. As you develop a relationship with Jesus Christ, and with Heavenly Father, you will be able to see more of who you are meant to be, and you need to allow yourself to become more than you initially thought possible.
These are some of the thoughts that have been floating around in my head and my heart since that choked up conversation last week. Take it or leave it, but I hope it is used well!

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