In the last year (September 27, 2015-September 27, 2016 for an exact timeline), I have come leaps and bounds. I have made some best friends, and I’ve lost some others. I’ve experienced things that I never could imagine that I would work up the courage to do. I’ve cried, I’ve laughed, and most importantly, I’ve felt so alive. UTK has played a huge role in getting me here, and for that, I am so thankful. To celebrate my 19 years of life, here are 19 things I learned my first year at UTK!
1. College isn’t scary.
You don’t have to be afraid of college, of the parties, of the dorms, of the classes, because honestly, everything falls right into place eventually. High schools lie to you when they say that the classes are harder because its not that they’re harder, they’re just more work intensive.
2. Laying on the floor can solve almost anything.
3. Being able to go out and do things by yourself is so liberating.
Your friends aren’t always going to be around to eat dinner with you or go see that weird movie, so you can go and do it by yourself. Nobody is going to think that you’re a freak or a loner just because you’re alone.
4. School doesn’t have to be your only focus.
Yes, that’s why you’re going to college. Yes, its extremely important. However, your mental health, your social health, and everything in between are also a priority.
5. On that note, its okay to change your mind.
You’re 18 years old, or in my case 17, when you start college. Your life doesn’t have to be figured out. There are so many things I learned my first year at UTK and continue to learn. You can go in one semester thinking that you’re going to be a journalist and come out the next completely lost. And that is more than okay.
6. Surround yourself with things that make you happy.
This can apply to objects or people.
7. You can’t be afraid to follow an unbeaten path.
Just because there is no certain future in whatever you choose for a major, or how you differ from your friend group, shouldn’t stop you from doing whatever the hell you want to do. Come and join me on this terrifying road to becoming an artist or whatever makes you happy because at the end of the day, when you lay down and feel fulfilled instead of discouraged, your life will get a little sweeter.
8. There is always time to go to a drag show.
9. Sometimes you aren’t going to be okay.
Just because you’re generally happy doesn’t mean that you can’t have miserable days. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to be consumed with sadness and anxiety for the next month. You just have to let yourself feel it out. This lesson has to be one of the most important things I learned my first year at UTK.
10. Sunday afternoon is the absolute worst time to do laundry when you live in a dorm.
11. It is so important to feel every emotion that you have as much as possible.
If something makes you angry, let it be known. If you’re sad, cry it out. If you’re happy, let that shine through you. You have every right to feel everything and let it be known, so don’t bottle it up. Drive to an abandoned bridge and scream all of your problems in the night. Lay on your dorm floor. Roll the windows down and shout your favorite song.
12. 1-ply is never going to cut it. Invest in 2-ply.
13. Don’t build your self and your life around certain people.
You are so strong. You can make it on your own. You don’t need to use these people for crutches. Don’t be scared to branch out on your own because when you finally do, you are going to feel so free.
14. “No is a full sentence.”
15. Don’t be ashamed of going to therapy.
Sometimes you need a little more help than your friends can offer. Some of the most important things I learned my first year at UTK was through others. It’s okay to take advantage of the counseling center. You’re just helping yourself be the best version of you and that is NOTHING to be ashamed of.
16. Downloading the gif keyboard is the best thing you can do for yourself.
17. Trying saying yes to more than half of the things you’re offered.
No, I didn’t always want to go and write an article about some weird play at the Bijou, or go see a terrible movie in a downtown bar, but I still get to laugh about those things with my friends because we had that terrible time together. Saying yes it the first step to making those incredible memories. Try it out for a while.
18. There’s something about smelling coffee at three AM when you’re studying that recharges you.
19. Changing is not a bad thing.
You grow up. You go to college. Your friends drift in and out of your life. You see a different, happier person in the mirror than you did last month. Its okay to change. Its okay to allow change into your life. It may even be one of the best things you ever decided to do.
Here’s to 19 years and 90 more!