Guest Blog: Learning to Love You in College
The beginning of college brings so many changes. It’s a whole new world that no campus visit or advice from upperclassmen could ever prepare you for. Everyone always says how college changes people, but you don’t realize how true that is until you experience it yourself. Fortunately for me, I think that so far college has changed me for the better. At the start of my journey my confidence levels plummeted, and it felt like I was doing everything wrong. And things actually were pretty wrong. Faced with homesickness, a bad breakup, major health issues, and serious depression, I hit rock bottom. But the great thing about rock bottom is that you can only go up. As I began my climb, I discovered the key parts of learning to love yourself.
Embrace your hobbies and interests.
Whether you are someone who likes running or writing poetry or playing with animals, find a way to do what you love in college and allow yourself to enjoy it. Don’t put your interests on the back burner just because it’s not something that seems popular in college. So what? Taking time out of your day to do something that makes you happy is really important. For me, this was reading. That was my escape. I got a public library card and read at least one book every week. I still do. Sure reading isn’t typically a highlight of the college experience, but it’s something that I love. Just because other students aren’t baking or building puzzles or playing instruments doesn’t mean you can’t be.
Stop caring what others think.
People say this all the time, and it seems cliché, but it’s one of the hardest yet most important things you can do for yourself. When you come to college, and you’re meeting new people and trying to make new friends, of course you want others to like you. But trying to please other people is how we lose ourselves. It’s so hard not to worry about the judgements of others in such a new environment. I struggled a lot with this. I worried what girls on my floor would think when I didn’t join a sorority or what my roommate thought of me when I went to bed at 9:30 pm. I even wondered what people from high school thought of me when I wasn’t posting pictures from parties on social media every weekend. It took me a long time, but I was finally able to realize that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. I am happiest when I am just being me, and that is what’s most important. Don’t let people’s opinions of you get in the way of your happiness.
Turn to those who appreciate you.
Family and friends can be just what you need in order to find love for yourself. Even if they are far away. No one understands you better than your close friends and family. These people love you, and they can always remind you of how great you are. When I was having such a hard time I shut out my closest friends and even my family. I didn’t want my family to worry about me or my friends to think less of me. To avoid that I just made them much smaller parts of my life. When I finally let them back in again I wished that I had done that from the start. I found comfort in my mom’s understanding and my dad’s support. My friendship with my sister became so much stronger. The open ears and arms of my best friend from high school were a blessing. Your loved ones care so much about you for a reason. Keeping them close helps you to always remember those reasons.
Remove toxins from your life.
While getting rid of the bad things in your life may seem pretty obvious, it’s not always something that we realize we need to do. Sometimes it isn’t so obvious to us that parts of our lives are becoming poisonous. A lot of times our habits and relationships become so fundamental to us that we don’t even consider removing them. When we do realize that we need to dissolve a harmful habit or relationship, it’s never easy to actually do so. For me, parting ways with friends who were no longer benefiting my life has been the hardest part of my journey. It’s hard to say goodbye to people who have been there for you, even if they are no longer a positive presence. The important thing to remember is to always do what’s best for you. You can still appreciate the great things that come out of a relationship or friendship, but sometimes you have to realize that nothing else positive can come from it. Losing friends is a part of life, and it’s a growing experience. It’s okay to miss old habits or people from your past. But it’s also okay to accept that your life is better without them.
Move forward with a positive attitude.
Positivity is key. Choosing to adapt a positive outlook on life is one of the simplest, most life changing decisions I have ever made. You play such a key role in your own happiness, and the biggest part of it is your mindset. Being happy with who you are involves always remembering that life is great. Sure, not everything can always be good. I still find myself complaining too often. And I still stress all the time. But I also have become quick to remind myself that even when not everything is going right, I am lucky to be living the life that I have. Each day presents new challenges, but it is important to always keep in mind that you can handle them. You’ve made it this far and moving forward you can face anything else head on.
It’s not easy, but it is such a powerful thing. Learning to love yourself allows everything else in your life to begin to fall into place. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process. And it’s not always easy either. But so far the process for me has been life changing. I have learned to do what I enjoy and not care what anyone else thinks. I’ve also found endless support from my true friends and family and have gotten rid of the things in my life that had become harmful. I love the life I am living, and that’s not something I could have said a year ago or even six months ago. I am so lucky to have an amazing group of friends, boyfriend, and family who show me love every single day. And the best part is that I am able to show myself that love now too. I can finally say that I love myself.
Mandi is a junior in chemical engineering. When she’s not busy studying you can find her surrounded by good books and great friends. She tries to live each day to the fullest and always keep a positive attitude.