After yesterday’s not-so-happy post, I’m ready to kick off a week of celebration. I promise after next week I’ll stop talking about graduation. If you couldn’t tell already, I’m a little excited for this Thursday.
I’ve touched on some of my earlier college years in previous posts (here and here) but I’ll never be able to fully communicate how I felt at that time because I didn’t write in the moment. Know what I mean? The first two years of college were really hard for me. I seriously considered transferring closer to home many times. I didn’t love my housing situation for the first two years. I felt like an outcast in a crazy city and struggled to find people with similar interests. Therefore, the fact that I can look back and say “hey, I made it through, and I made it through stronger,” is pretty darn amazing. GIVE YOURSELF CREDIT. I’m not one for bragging but we (as a society) are so hard on ourselves. Always comparing ourselves to others and wanting to do more and be better (what does that mean?!). I think it’s good to recognize and admit to personal successes, whatever the magnitude.
While this post is a little self-indulgent, I want to highlight six of the “biggest” highlights, lessons and accomplishments from my college career. Oddly none of them involve actual academic classes…
*In no particular importance, just the order of the pictures above*
I never talked about it on the blog (for various reasons), but I was in a sorority for two years. I could write a novel on my thoughts and experience but I’ll summarize with this: it just wasn’t for me. I have absolutely nothing against the girls in my sorority (most are my good friends) or other sororities but I was/am happier not being in one. It did impact my college experience and “growth” so it feels right to include it here.
My first real job on campus was teaching Spinning at the campus gym. I taught at various times each semester, depending on my schedule. For two years I taught twice a week and for the last year and a half I taught only once a week. I remember being the BIGGEST ball of nerves before teaching my first class and didn’t even tell my mom until after the fact because I didn’t want to jinx myself. It was a great way to ease into work responsibility. Plus, who doesn’t love getting paid to workout?
People ask me all the time how I got the job as a campus representative for KIND. The truth is, it was serendipity. That’s my favorite word, by the way. I was at the right place at the right time, literally and figuratively. It was toward the end of a rough freshman year and KIND had always been a (delicious) staple in my diet because of celiac. Having the opportunity to work for a company I already loved and supported was a dream. I’ve only come to love them, and their mission, even more.
Obviously, this blog as been part of my life for the last (almost) two years. I can’t express how much I’ve enjoyed writing and connecting with readers/other bloggers. There is sooooo much more for me to learn but I look at the unknown with excitement. I have plans for 2016 and I’m ready to get started.
I ran my first and second marathon in college. Let’s not talk about the supposed-to-be third. I trained for those marathons in Miami. I feel a sense of pride driving by my running paths and thinking “I put in a lot of hard work here.” Racing aside, it goes without saying that running has been a saving grace during tough times. Freshman year, when I didn’t know the area, I would just run until I found my way around, simultaneously relieving stress and anxiety.
I learned to cook in college. And by “cook” I mean make the basics while the occasionally experimenting. I feel 100x more comfortable in the kitchen than I did a few years ago, which says a lot. However, I’m still one to text my mom the most pointless and random cooking questions, just to make sure I’m doing it right. Food photography? Hopefully next year I can say I made strides!
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There you have it. 3.5 years summarized in 800 words. I did actually learn a thing or two from my classes and about my major, but those are nothing compared to my personal growth. Oh, and the cooking thing…that’s probably the most important.
What didn’t I learn during college? How to kill bugs, fold laundry in a timely fashion, budget and eat almond butter in moderation. I guess there’s always room for improvement.
Margaret @ youngandrungry says
This was such a great read! I highly doubt any of my highlights would have to do with classes although everyone in my major was a tight group. I think Miami would be a very tough city for me to and I think you are seriously amazing for sticking through it! I know how big of a mess I was in my freshman year and I don’t think I would have been able to weather all of that discomfort. The coolest thing is that you filled your 4 years with things that you do love, which could make any setting better. KIND was not only a fun college job, but I’m sure that was an overall great life experience.
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Thank you, Margaret! You described my job with KIND perfectly…a great life experience. I know freshman-year struggles are common but (in my experience) no one talked about it until after the fact. Everyone says they LOVE college life (the parties/freedom), so because I didn’t love it immediately I felt odd. Once I was able to find things I enjoyed and got deeper into my major, I felt more comfortable.
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine says
Greek life is a weird thing either way. I wouldn’t do it, but I didn’t care if that was a big thing or not when I was looking at schools, I know it’s important for a lot though!
College is such a weird crazy time in our lives. There is no textbook way it’s going to go, you learn to take each day and just see what’s out there waiting to happen!
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It’s such a big thing in southern schools. It’s not huge at my school but still prominent. College is such a weird time with a lot of change…and I know there’s only more to come.
Oh man I miss college..I loved every minute of it! It’s interesting to hear you were in a sorority! I’ve never met anyone who was in Greek life and disliked it. I never wanted to join a sorority and I’m glad that I didn’t. That life is just not for me, but I have lots of friends who did it. Whatever makes you happy!
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I joined out of curiosity and felt “stuck” in it for a while. Surprisingly, there a lot of people I know who dropped and others who are sick of it at this point. There are a lot of great things about being in one, but 4 years is a long time and things start to get old (at least for me).
Brie @ Lean, Clean, & Brie says
Reading through your post made me start thinking about everything I learned outside of the classroom while in college over the last few years. It is crazy how fast it has gone by and how much I have changed just over the years. Running has been my saving grace from some difficult times too, and I feel the same when I run along paths I trained for my half marathon on & remember all the hard work that was put in there. Happy almost-Graduation!
Brie @ Lean, Clean, & Brie recently posted…Peppermint Mocha Smoothie
I feel like the second half of college has gone by so much faster than the first! It’s great to look back at any point and see how far you’ve come. Thank you!!!
Alyssa @ renaissancerunnergirl says
All awesome stuff for you! I wish I had started blogging and/or running while in college and not waited because they’re both awesome parts of my life. I did start the cooking though like you :)
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I wish I started my blog earlier too! I talked about for so long before biting the bullet.
This is so great! It’s so important to reflect on challenging times in life and see the ways we’ve grown and gotten stronger. And see the good times, too! I’m in a sorority now and, to be honest, I wish I hadn’t joined one. Just not really for me as far as the morals and priorities of my particular chapter. But, I guess I wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t tried it!
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Thanks, Sami! I had similar thoughts about my chapter. I’m glad I tried the sorority-thing because now I know firsthand instead of assuming how I’d like it.
Sam @ MobileBayRunner says
Awesome post! College was such a weird time for me … I’m super impressed by your maturity. Oddly enough, some of my latest and greatest successes are probably similar to the things you learned in college (but I am 30). I have recently started blogging and I absolutely love being able to share my thoughts and feel like I am making a difference. The cooking thing is definitely a skill that I didn’t learn in college and am still working on! Like you, I was in a sorority for a few years and then decided that it wasn’t for me. I don’t regret doing it, per say, but if I had it to do over again I definitely wouldn’t (if that makes any sense).
Makes perfect sense to me! I don’t regret it either but I wouldn’t do it again either. Only in the last two years of college did I find my stride and start to see the bigger picture. Starting this blog really helped me and I can see the personal growth from earlier posts.
It sounds like you had such a great college experience! I absolutely loved mine too! And how fun to be a rep for KIND!
Working for KIND has been the best experience! The ideal college job.
Sarah @pickyrunner says
Yep I nodded my head to this whole list. My first job on campus was teaching swim lessons, so similar to your spinning job. I’m glad my school didn’t have sororities but I’m even more glad you gave it a shot and were able to decide it wasn’t for you! Blogging honestly got me through so much in college and while I probably wouldn’t choose my school again, I had that similar mindset of “you made it through something stronger.” Excited for you to graduate!!!!
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You’re me, just two years older. If that’s the case then, I have a lot to look forward to post-grad :) THANK YOU!!
Sara @ Oats & Rows says
Love this post! I was in a sorority, but wasn’t super die-hard into it. I always thought that was what you were supposed to do in college, but looking back, I realize other things could have been just as, if not more, important. I definitely would have been just as happy not in one, but that’s something I realized once college was over. I’ve been out of college for almost 4 years (yikes!) and I’ve changed so much since I left school and have learned so much. The years right after school are super important ones in your life, in my opinion.
Congrats on graduating!! :)
Joining a sorority is the norm where I’m from so I felt a little “weird” that I didn’t love it. Plus when you’re in Greek Life, that’s all you hear about so it seems really important. But I forget how skewed that perception is. I’ve heard a few times that the years after school are big “growth” years. Bring it on, I guess!
Julia @ Lord Still Loves Me says
I did not know you tried out Greek life or were a spinning instructor! How cool! I never gave Greek life a shot, but I have a feeling I’d feel the same as you if I were to go down that path. Just not for me.
Love this self-reflection, Emily! And I don’t find it self-indulgent at all. You worked hard throughout college. You deserve to look back on it and see the progress you’ve made.
Latest and greatest success: finishing my book. felt pretty incredible. :)
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I gave Greek life a shot because I went to an all-girls Catholic high school and LOVED my experience. I heard the two were similar, but that wasn’t the case for me. Glad I know now.
I’m SOOOO proud of/happy for you about your book! That is worth celebrating big time.
Amanda @ ExploringLifeAndThings says
I loved reading this! I wish I would have had a blog during college because this would be such a cool post to look back on. It’s funny, a lot of your highlights of college are some of my biggest highlights of post-grad haha Running, blogging, cooking, etc. Being only a year and a half out of college, I wish there would have been a class or at least more emphasis on the importance of investing/retirement money/savings. Sometimes I feel like there’s so much I still don’t know haha.
Amanda @ ExploringLifeAndThings recently posted…Thoughts during my Saturday run
I feel like those three things (running, blogging, cooking) will continue to be a big part of my life! I’ve said so many times how I wish there was a useful elective (not a super hard finance class) that would have gone over the basics of money/investing.
Emily, first time commenter here and just popping in to say: I’m a lawyer in my 2nd year of practice (26 years old) and I still struggle with bugs, actually folding my laundry when it’s dry, budgeting, and moderation with nut butters. You are doing so well and have every reason to celebrate what you have learned so far! :)
Hi Maeve! Thank you for this comment- I laughed :) Good thing about the nut butters because I’m not too sure I want that to change.
This is awesome! It truly is an all around experience to help set you off on the next step! Congrats on graduating!
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Thank you, Kristin!
Hayley Blake says
I wish I had a blog in college so I could’ve written about these sorts of things…and oh man there were SO SO many things I didn’t learn until the years after college. Though college taught me a lot, my most transformative years were the years between college and now 100%. I too was in a sorority (for all 4 years) but if I were to go into college right now I would definitely not join one.
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I’ve heard the first few years after college are the most transformative and I’m oddly excited for them :)
Susie @ SuzLyfe says
Congrats, girl. I was in a sorority, and being a part of one definitely has great points and negatives. It was great for about a year and half, then they kinda went nuts and I was just over it. But 2 of my sorority sisters (including my MOH) were in my sorority, and I met my husband via a sorority sister, so it wasn’t all bad :D
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I got to that year and a half point and decided I was too over it to continue. But safe to say being in a sorority proved successful for you!
[email protected] is Sweet says
I also started teaching spin in college, and I feel like it helped me come into myself a lot. After a super difficult academic year, I really found my confidence in teaching and it has carried over to other aspects of my life!
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I feel ya. My first two years of college were really rough too, and I also considered transferring schools, but I’m so glad that I didn’t. You’re so right to give yourself credit (and amen on not comparing yourself to others)! We gotta celebrate our victories! :]
I started to learn how to cook in college as well, and that (yay food!), the friends I made/kept, my extra-curriculars, and my majors are what made my last two years of college the best years of my life. <3
Loved reading this Emily! My greatest accomplishment as of late was living on my own this past semester for the first time. I’m a sophomore, but my freshman year I lived at home and commuted to a satellite campus (controlling ex-boyfriend, long story). I’m proud of myself for making such a smooth transition to living on my own and going to a bigger school. I did rush this fall and joined a sorority, I love it, but I definitely can see how it’s not for everyone. Thanks for sharing this!
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Ellen @ My Uncommon Everyday says
I can definitely relate to some rough times, and have considered transferring on and off, but ultimately keep deciding to stay where I am. It’s probably something I’ll feel I can write about after I graduate, but for now it’s good enough to say that I’m challenging myself a lot and I don’t want to regret backing away from that challenge.
On sororities… well, I rushed a business frat last spring, got a bid, and almost immediately dropped out of the pledge process. My thoughts on Greek life in general were just that you’re sort of paying to hang out with people and that I could spend time with anyone I wanted anyway. Sure, I like the idea of the community, but I never got as excited about it as everyone around me. Everyone I know who joined a sorority has been really enthusiastic about the rituals and stuff, and I just don’t fully understand that, but to each her own!
Love your self-reflection – it’s so cool to see how you’ve grown through college. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you :)
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Sam @ See Sam Run says
I had no idea you were in a sorority! I was also in one in college for 2 years, but it also wasn’t for me. The experience taught me who my true friends were, and they were my marching band friends, not the greek ones. However, sorority life did open me up to my love of Lilly Pulitzer #noshame :)
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