College has been a wild ride. I'm graduating in 10 weeks and am nowhere near prepared. In fact, I just fixed up my CV last night and am going to start applying for jobs later this month. It's weird. I actually have to get my act together and be a functional adult. I can't be a "college kid" forever.
Classes this quarter are also a lot tougher since they're not exactly the subjects that I'm best at, but, well … it's my last quarter. I've survived three years of college, so I know I can do it.
It goes without saying that I've learned a lot during my time at the University of Washington, but I value what I've learned about myself more than I previously thought. One of the most important things I wish I'd known when I started was how to be patient with myself and not push myself to my limits without considering the consequences.
I should have taken better care of myself in my first year of college, especially after being diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. On a day-to-day basis, my chronic illness does not affect me too much, but I tend to feel very nauseated when I am stressed out. Not to the point of puking, but I lost quite a bit of weight as I was not feeling my best. Seeing my family and friends constantly worry about me was a wake-up call that I should take care of myself.
In addition, I threw myself a little too hard into my schoolwork. Spending all your waking energy going after a perfect 4.0 grade-point average is not a normal or sustainable way of life. Many tears were shed in the process. I remember breaking down in my second year, and trying to convince myself that the endless cycle of anxiety trying to get the perfect grade was worth it. Spoiler alert: it's not - at least to me. It was not worth the impact it made on my physical and mental health.
Upcoming first-year students, I know the freedom that comes with starting college is oh-so-exhilarating, but take care of yourselves. There's a learning curve that comes with starting school in a whole new environment. It's not likely that you'll get the hang of it immediately and that's OK. No one has university figured out in their first quarter.
Studying at university, like any other stage of your life, isn't fun all the time, but it's pretty great. Just remember there's more to the college experience than the fancy piece of paper you walk across the stage for.