The last two semesters of my college career have been the best, hardest, most challenging, most rewarding, most crippling and thrilling all at the same time. I don’t think I’ve ever been so sure of myself and where I’m headed while also being so filled with self-doubt and anxiety. As my graduation date gets closer and closer, questions such as “Where will I get a job? How will I support myself? Am I ready to become a ‘real’ adult?” consume my thoughts and effect my day-to-day life.

During my senior year I learned a lot about myself, my work ethic and how to ease into the transition from student to professional – but mainly about how little sleep I can get and still manage to be a functioning human (the answer is four, if you were curious).

1) You can’t say “yes” to everything

Being both a people pleaser and a die-hard extrovert who craves social interactions, saying “no” isn’t in my vocabulary. Even if I had a test to study for, homework due that night and was mentally and emotionally drained – I would still say yes to hanging out when I knew it was a bad idea. Don’t fall into this trap! Do what’s best for you and your mental health.

Why Saying “No” is Important for a Healthy Life

2) Grades are important, but you are more important

It’s very easy to lose sight of your self worth when you’re in college and pressured to maintain a high GPA, get straight As and never miss a homework assignment. In college, I developed an unhealthy, perfectionist mindset which I didn’t realize at the time was damaging me. I became my own worst critic and set my academic goals so high that I could never actually reach them. Nothing was enough for me, I was never satisfied with my grades (even though I was getting straight As every semester). I believed my grades were more important than my mental health, so I neglected myself.

If I could go back and re-do the past two years, I would put less pressure on myself and prioritize my mental and emotional health over my grades. Grades and GPA won’t matter in five years, so why stress over it so much?

Your GPA Doesn’t Matter

3) Cherish the good moments

In the midst of all-nighters, 8 a.m. classes and mental breakdowns, time spent with friends can make all the difference. Reflecting on my college career, my favorite memories are the sweet chats shared over honey lattes, the hurricane evacuation that turned into a mini vacay and the night my roommate and I made five million snickerdoodle cookies. I cannot stress this enough, friends make everything better.

4) It’s okay to not have it all figured out

There is so much pressure to have your whole life planned out when you’re a college student. Everyone’s favorite question to ask a college student is “So what’s your plan after graduation?” This can be extremely stressful when the answer is, “I don’t know!”. Just remember this: it’s okay to not have everything figured out. It’s okay to not know where you see yourself in five years. I mean, I rarely have the next day planned! Uncertainty is scary but it’s part of life. The best thing to do when you don’t know what to do is focus on what is currently in your control, and disregard the rest.

5) Take advantage of every (relevant) opportunity

This lesson contradicts lesson one in a sense, but hear me out. I took every opportunity relevant to my major that I could, and it’s proven to set me apart from the 707 other students graduating from the communication program with me (for those of you wondering, I am getting a Bachelor of Science in communication with an emphasis in public relations, and a minor in marketing!). I’ve had an on-campus job in marketing ever since I started attending the university, am currently president of a national public relations club and have had two marketing internships, one of which I currently hold. Getting involved both on and off campus is the best advice I have for current college students, especially seniors!

Senior year is flying by and I’m trying to cherish the little amount of time I have left in college, because this time truly is so so sweet (despite all the anxiety and sleep deprivation). To all my fellow seniors, stay strong! Remember where you started and picture where you’re headed. I believe in you, so start believing in yourself!

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