11 Things I Wish I Knew In College

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Some lessons are meant to be learned the hard way.

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They say that high school is the best years of your life but I believe it’s only a precursor of the culmination of your best experiences.

Pardon my French, but in college, sht hits you ten times harder because your teachers aren’t wiping your ass anymore. It’s a huge reality check but the freedom and accessibility you gain comes with responsibility. It’s really easy to fall into habitual mistakes but the lessons you gain from it resonate on a deeper level.

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1.) Sleep

I went through half of my college career on 3-5 hours of sleep, AKA disoriented. It took me all four years to correct my body clock but after doing so, I can’t go back. I know everyone says it, but sleep. Is. So. Vital. It changes everything about everything and life becomes SO much easier when you can think clearer and straighter. If I had corrected my sleeping schedule earlier, I’m pretty sure most of my mistakes wouldn’t have been accounted for.

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Watch via Breda / Swimsuit via La Blanca

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2.) If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re late, forget about it.
Not many people know this, but I developed the worst habit of being late to EVERYTHING. It said so much about myself and teachers hated me for it. I got docked so many points for absences due to oversleeping and being tardy that I’ve either dropped a letter grade or failed a class. Being late is a real problem wherever you go and caring about that issue takes a lot more work when you’re struggling to beat that habit.
There was a point where I would skip a different class a week and was always stuck trying to catch up. I was the worst student. The problem was that I wasn’t skipping class because I was playing hooky, but because I was still trying to catch up on sleep. It was an endless cycle where I would be awake at night, unable to sleep, then I would have rush to class and surviving so much on coffee that I would become dehydrated. Eventually I had a kidney infection because of how little water I drank.
(Re: My first point. Sleep affects everything.)

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3.) Be honest with yourself. 
I was captain of my school’s dance team and I was so unhappy but I didn’t realize that I was. Every time I wanted to quit, my advisor would keep pushing me to finish through the year and I kept listening to him. I kept believing that this social status and the team were my happiness and that this was what I wanted, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t me and after all of that, I was disappointed for allowing myself to be so unhappy for so long.
When it comes to what you deserve, how you feel, be honest about the people you keep in your life.

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4.) A smaller social circle is a lot healthier than you think. 
I always thought I had to have a ton of friends in order to function and when you get older, your circle becomes smaller naturally. There’s no real given explanation for this, other than the fact that you just realize who your real friends are. The best part is: you no longer have to Drake and drive. Trust issues are no longer a problem since there are less people to trust.
Bottom line is: you don’t need to be friends with everyone and if someone does leave your life, it’s probably for the best.

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5.) If you have to hide a part of yourself when you’re with someone, chances are, they don’t belong in your life.
I think it’s safe to say that everyone censors him or herself when meeting someone but there are always those moments when you instantly click with someone and that censor dissipates instantly. When that happens, you keep that person in your life.

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6.) You’ll be a lot happier when you do things for yourself and not others
Don’t let peer pressure or guilt dictate your actions. It’s okay to say no and you definitely can’t make everyone happy so why not make yourself happy?
7.) It’s okay to take breaks and it’s okay to not know what you want. 
It’s better to take a break and figure out what you want and where you picture yourself to be than to waste money, walking around in a haze of uncertainty and pressure. It’s totally normal to not know what you want and you shouldn’t let anyone else, especially your parents, force you to do something for the stability.
Do what you love and the money will always follow. It’s better for you to take your time deciding what path you want to take in life than to be at a destination you don’t even like.

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8.) Explore and experiment. You’ll never know what you’ll find.
If something piques your interest, explore it. Try something new. Be adventurous. You’ll expand what you know and allow yourself to be open-minded even if the experience doesn’t exactly work out for you. You will never know the outcome unless you try it.
I’ve experimented with clothes Justin picks out for me that I never thought would like. Fast-forward to now and his influence has encouraged me to develop my own sense of style to what it is now. Maybe I didn’t completely encompass his tastes but trying it made me more adventurous and open to other possibilities.
9.) Do what you think is right. Trust your gut. It’ll get you out of tight or emergency situations. It’ll save your life.
This isn’t something I’ve ever mentioned publicly, but I’ve been sexually assaulted more than once. I remember my instincts were banging on the door (in my head, of course) and had I not listened, things would be very different.
Long story short, if you have a bad feeling about something, listen to that feeling. Get out, say no, stop what is happening. Be safe and responsible for you and those around you.

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10.) Know when you have too much on your plate.
In college, you learn your limit; some learn it faster than others but saying no is a lot harder than saying yes. It’s okay to say no to commitments. You are in control of your life and your schedule and if you suffer because of what’s on your plate, then go to a different restaurant. I’ve learned again and again (the hard way) how small my plate really is. What’s the point of being a jack-of-all-trades when you can’t be a master-of-one?
Prioritize. Prioritize. Prioritize.
A lot of thing suffer when you don’t.
11.) Take summer school classes online
If I could tell my 18 year-old self this, I would, again and again. I may have been working over the summer at the time or dancing but online classes literally have no impact on your schedule. They take an hour at most out of your day, not even 7 days a week. You will save so much money and time and things would be so much easier on your educational career later on.

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There is no excuse as to why you can’t finish one class within a month. Get yourself ahead of the game and you will dread school a lot less. I promise.
I’m finishing my last semester starting next week and I just want to be at the finish line already. To everyone else going back to school, God speed.

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Also, I’m geared up for the upcoming school year with the definition of minimalism. These Totallee phone cases are the underdogs of cases and they encompass the minimalist’s mantra, ‘less is more‘, to a T. Not to mention they’re based right here in South Pasadena. I’m a sucker for local, small businesses.

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Photography by Justin Quebral

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