You’re finally in university! But now you’re worrying. You’re panicking. You didn’t complete all the readings last night. You can’t decide if you’re going to do your masters or go to law school or what kind of job you might get right after graduation. Hey. Chill. It will all be okay. I’m going to give you the secret to enjoying your life while in University. It took me about 5 years to figure out what I’m going to tell you, so listen up.
1. Make Big Plans
No, you can’t plan out your whole life. But you do need some kind of an idea of what you’re up to. Think of some options. Yes, you probably have no idea what you’re going to do when you graduate (especially if you’re in arts). But that doesn’t mean you can’t plan. Maybe you’re going to take a year off to make money and travel. Maybe you’re going to go right into grad school. Maybe you hope to jump out into the world and find a job. Maybe you’re torn between 10 options. Whatever you want to do, think about what it is that you want. Why should you do this? So that you can make sure you’re leaving your options open and helping your future self. If you hope to get into grad school it would help a lot to meet some profs in your major and build relationships, or if you want to travel when you’re done school it would help a lot to start saving now. Either way, don’t just push it to the back of your mind until you’re in your last year. That’s not gonna fly. Either way, none of it is set in stone, you can always change what you’re doing if it’s not what you want. But just don’t back yourself into a corner because you haven’t taken the time to think about what you want at all.
2. Make Little Plans
A lot of people start their school year with a planner, a journal and a calendar marked up with all of their assignment due dates. But by mid October these are all but forgotten. I’m not saying you have to be super organized to be happy throughout uni (albeit it’ll help). But if you want to be successful, pull up your socks and take control of your life. Lay out your priorities. Think about the kinds of things you want to be able to make time for. Way too often I’ve start the semester with goals and dreams and plans, but in December all I feel is the weight on my shoulders of all those things that I said I wanted to make time for. That coffee date with a friend, the weekly family dinners, the new skill I wanted to learn, the new hobby I wanted to try, that book I was going to read, that trip I was absolutely going to take. These things don’t just fall into place when you have a busy schedule, time flies. So make sure to lay it out for yourself and allow yourself to get to do all the things you care about.
3. Just Do It
Okay, you’ve probably seen that motivational Shia Laboeuf video. If you haven’t, well…go watch it now! It’s hilarious. But in all honestly, it’s actually pretty darn inspiring. Even though he’s acting, what’s so inspiring is that he’s SO frustrated that people don’t understand that if they want to achieve something they just have to DO IT!!! It’s so true. Nothing’s going to happen if you just sit around wishing for it, or worse, worrying about what might stop you. Take control of your life and make it what you want it to be. If you want to make sure you have time for all the things you care about, don’t be lazy. Go out and do it. I don’t claim to have it all figured out, but I am realizing that this is so important to having control over your life and making it the life you want it to be. You can’t sit around waiting for things to happen, go out and get them. If you’re aways procrastinating, always saying “I’ll do that tomorrow” or next week, you’re never going to do it. Do it right now.
Okay, so now that I’ve intimidated you (and hopefully pumped you up a teeny bit) it’s time to breathe. You aren’t on the road to happiness if you’re all wound up and tense about life. We’ve all seen those preppy students that don’t have time to smile because they’re too busy grabbing all their highlighters and pens and whiteout that that they can write in their little journals and planners every single word the prof says. And then they spend 4 hours every night studying those words the prof said so that they can make sure they’ll get a good grade. If you’re that student. JUST. CHILL. OUT. Working hard is good, paying attention is good, studying is good. But don’t freak out and get worked up about everything. Take it easy. If you’re attending class and doing the work you’ll be fine. No need to have a panic attack because you missed a word the prof said because the dude beside you needed to borrow a pen. I promise you, it will be okay. Life is forgiving. Make your plans, set your goals, that will make sure that you’re not just aimlessly wandering through life. But once you’ve got that big picture now it’s time to relax. So take a deep breathe, put down the highlighters, and enjoy your life. Appreciate the intellectual university environment. Appreciate the wisdom of your profs. Appreciate skipping class a little. Don’t get uptight about life. Have goals and plans, but most importantly those plans allow you to take it easy and enjoy your life. The reality is that life works out the way it’s meant to.
There’s a ton more that I want to say, but for now these are the essentials that have helped me live a full and happy life as a university student. No matter what, you can’t just erase and speed through 4 years of your life. Don’t make your university life hell just because you see it as tool to get you to where you want to be. It’s four (or probably more) valuable years of your life. Don’t forget to appreciate the beauty that is your life.