This past weekend, I went away to my family’s house on Whidbey Island for a girls’ weekend with my mom and sisters. There was a lot of laughing, eating, dancing, and of course, girl talk. Because I’m a few years older than my sisters, we have a tradition where we’ll have a “girls workshop” at significant points of my sisters’ lives. We’ll chat about various topics, they’ll ask questions, and I’ll offer advice. We’ve covered identifying (and keeping) true friends, ignoring the catty girls in high school, having your first “real” boyfriend, and the list goes on.
This weekend, the topic was college, as they’re about to head into their first year. One of my sisters asked, “what do you wish you had known when you first started college?” and it got me thinking. In hindsight, if I could give my 18 year old self some advice, what would I say? I brought this up with Ashley and we thought we’d share a few of the ideas we reflected on.
- H: Don’t take things so seriously. Chances are, this will not matter in 5 years. Heck, it probably won’t even matter in 5 months. I’ve always had the tendency to over analyze, over think, and over stress. But in reflecting on some of the matters that caused me so much stress a few years ago, I see even more clearly how sweating the small stuff really only does me harm in the moment.
- A: Your #GirlGang will get you through anything and everything. Take advantage of being within steps, feet or blocks of your besties for the good times, the bad times, and basically, just anytime. The college years are some of the best in your life, but they’re also going to be challenging. Don’t fret though…a night with your best friends can cure almost anything. Spoiler: this is still true today. That seven minute drive between us now feels like forever!
- H: Don’t be shy, they’re probably just as nervous as you are. I’ve gotten much better at this over the years, but I used to be extremely shy upon first meeting someone, and then would gradually open up over time. I would get so caught up in worrying about what others’ impressions of me were, that I’d have a hard time saying much at all. But in reflecting on many of these first meetings, I realize that everyone is in the same boat — awkwardly trying to make new friends and get to know one another. So, rather than judging you for introducing yourself, they’re more likely to be grateful that you made the first move and opened up the opportunity to make a new friend.
- A: You can never waste money on travel, so book the trip and don’t look back. I whole heartedly believe travel is one of the best things you can spend your money on. Many of my favorite memories from college are trips – with girlfriends, with my boyfriend and best of all, studying abroad in Italy (and then traveling around Europe for another month after.)
- H: You won’t regret stepping out of your comfort zone. College is the time to try new things, and figure out what your passions and interests are. While it can be tempting to stay in and binge watch another season of Grey’s Anatomy (no one is monitoring your TV watching anymore), some of my favorite memories from college are from when I sporadically went to an on-campus fashion show with a friend, tried out a new exercise class (ultimately discovering hot yoga!), or joined a group to attend a concert last minute. Sure, you won’t love everything, but it’s the best opportunity to take, “you don’t know if you don’t try” to heart.
- A: Make working out a priority. In high school, I was working out five days a week and it was absolutely a priority for me. I had a routine and it was pretty consistent week to week, which made it easy to stick to. College totally threw that off. Between a busy class schedule, homework, friends and a job, it was tough to stick to that same routine. My advice is to make time for it, and stick to it as much as possible.
- H: Take your make up off. Your future self will thank you for establishing a solid skin care routine early. Invest in whatever it takes to encourage yourself to take off your make up and moisturize (at minimum) every night.
- A: Drink tons of H20. I promise, your skin will thank you, and you’ll just feel so much better. Speaking from personal experience, I was horrible at drinking water when I was younger. It wasn’t until recently that it became clear how powerful it really is. The younger you start making it a habit, the better you’ll feel.
- H: Find good friends and don’t let them get away. I met some of my very best friends in college (hello, that’s how this whole blog began), and am so incredibly grateful for it. So, make yourself open to meeting new people, and when you find people that you click with, invest time and energy into the relationship.
- A: Don’t sweat the small stuff…and it’s (almost) all small stuff. This is kinda along the lines of Haley’s first lesson, but there’s no point in stressing about the little things. Did someone make a rude comment to you? Missed the bus by thirty seconds? Trip and fall in front of your crush? It doesn’t matter. Pick yourself up and know you’ll be better than OK.
If you had opportunity to go back in time and talk to your 18 year old self, what advice would you offer? We realized, after sitting down and putting our thoughts on paper, is that the funny thing is, regardless of age, these lessons and advice apply at any stage of your life. Even though we now have a few more years under our belts, we’re still just figuring it out as we go.
H & A
Photos by Bailey Makaimoku Photography