Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Things I Learned in College

Things I Learned in College

            College.  4 more years of school. 4 more years of “when the hell do I get out of here?”.  Not that I hated school…I always liked to learn and accumulate new knowledge that I could use to better myself and to better the world.   On the other hand, there were always three main things that kept me restless: 1) I can’t remember about 98% of what I learned, and 2) I never really fit in, and 3) I just wanted to get out there! (especially in my last few years).  Flipping back through old notebooks, half the information looks foreign to me (then again, part of it is French…All I can really say now is “Bonjour” now).  If you presented me with a stats test today, I’d most likely fail.  I can remember a few professors that left a mark on my views, and a few social science classes that alerted my thinking and got my brain reeling.

            With that said, I did learn a lot.   It’s just that many of those lessons were life lessons and resulted in much personal growth.  I entered college as a teenager and left as an adult.

Here are some of the things I learned:

·         To be happy, you must decide to be happy.  “Life is what YOU make of it.” With this knowledge, two other things have helped change my life: service and running.  Running has helped me get to know me (you might have to think about that, but it makes sense!) It’s shown me my strength, my weaknesses, and my inner self.  Service has helped give me meaning to life. 
·         My family and friends love me for me, NOT my athletic ability (or lack thereof) or other impersonal talents or shortcomings.
·         I love my twin.  I am not her, she is not me, we are different and so are out talents (or lack of mine).  Again, remember above bullet point.
·         There are no such things as mistakes, as long as you learn from them.  Mistakes make us better people for when we go Home.
·         Be comfortable in your own skin and mind.  I am a volunteer, endurance runner…and nerd.  Needless to say,  I rarely fit in at college.  (Drinking and partying would make those Saturday morning longs runs even more difficult than they already can be!)
·         My parents are not against me…they just don’t always understand me or everything I do.  (No, they haven’t been very involved/present in my ultra races, but they really just don’t understand them.  Ultra runners all know we are crazy bunch, and it is hard for outsiders to see why we push are bodies so far.  I can’t hold it against them they don’t get it.  But, my dad, mom, and stepdad, all took off work to see my receive my Red Cross Award, my mom and stepdad again drove out to my Honors Convocation to see me receive my Social Science and other academic awards, and they all could not have been more proud at my graduation.)
·         Changing your mind is perfectly fine and normal.  Afterall, if your learning and growing it makes sense!
·         Communication is key.  Normal people cannot read minds, so don’t expect them too, regardless to how obvious you think it might be.  Also, your ideas may be different than others, so express them. 
·         It’s okay to be shy…but don’t let that stop you from using your voice. 
·         Socializing/making connections and risk taking can lead to great opportunities.
·         Believe in yourself and others.  Sure, you might be let down once in awhile, but you might also be surprised. Either way, the latter is a much more pleasant way to live by.
·         Time is relative.  In other words, if you really want to do something, you can make time for it.
·         Relationships are the most important thing in life.  If you love others, others will love you and living will always be worthwhile.
(Just last year, I thought I HAD to move out west to be happy and fulfilled.  Now I am realizing how much the people in my life mean to me and how empty my life would be without them.  That doesn’t mean I won’t move eventually, but that I can be happy right where I am.)
·         Don’t compare yourself to others, you will never be satisfied.  Just be the best YOU.
·         Give yourself- it is the best gift we have to offer someone and always the most meaningful.  This may mean in service, to family and friends, or complete strangers.  Both sides reap the benefits.
·         Life is like an ultra- ups, downs, and beautiful.
·         SMILE- it’s infectious. 
·         Really, all that matters is that you try your best and that you’re a good person.

While none of those lessons are requirements for receiving my degree, they are the lessons that I will remember and take with me on the next part of my journey.

Never stop learning,


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