What I learned my junior year of college

By Elaina Finkelstein

This year, I feel as if I have ultimately learned more than I have in previous years. I have a tradition of writing a letter to myself after every year at college. I did one after my Freshman year, Sophomore year, and now here I am writing what I have learned as Junior year is coming to a close. This year has been a hard one (that’s a hardcore understatement tbh). Many of these lessons I struggled to learn the hard way. Junior year was full of sadness, celebration, but most importantly- growth. College isn’t supposed to be easy, and surprisingly in my eyes I don’t feel like it is the “best four years of your life.” To me, college has been an incredible journey of growing up and pushing myself to be the best version of myself whether that is through mistakes I have made or accomplishments I have had.

1. To be a good person, you must have no hate in your heart.

This is something extremely valuable I have learned this year. When people think of me, I want them to think of me as a good person. I don’t want to be known as someone who has a lot of Instagram followers, or someone who is obsessed with social media (regardless of if my Instagram obsession is true). I’ve always wanted people to think of me as someone who is a good friend and a good person. Having a good heart is a quality I have always strived for. I learned that in order for me to be the best person I can be, I need to have no hate or grudges in my heart for anyone. Throughout the year, I have apologized to the people I have wronged in the past, and have attempted to become the bigger person in hopes of trading the hate I had with respect for one another. I found that there is no way for me to become the person I admire if I have hate in my heart for anyone in my life. The only way I found to move on from the past was to accept, apologize, and try to use the lesson learned to become better. I understand this is probably super obvious, but from experience I found that the action of admitting your faults is way harder than imagined. Everyone loves to have their pride, but pride is nothing if you know deep down that you did the wrong thing to someone. Apologizing even though you don’t understand what you did wrong to someone is still the best thing to do in order to move on and continue to grow as a person. There is no place for hate in my heart anymore- I let go of all the grudges in order to grow.

2. Who I am, and who I am not.

When I was in High School I felt incredibly alone and invisible until I created a Twitter account that had people knowing who I was. It was so incredibly toxic to use a social media platform to hide how sad and alone I felt, but my Twitter had everyone talking and laughing and it sort of became me and controlled me. I would do stupid things just to tweet about it, and I would say things just to get a chuckle out of people. I came to college thinking that I wanted to be that funny Twitter famous girl who could make anyone laugh. I wanted to be accepted. I wanted to show how fun my life seemed by using social media to not only deceive other people, but to deceive myself and how truly sad I felt. I deleted my twitter in 2015, and it has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I was tired of letting a social media platform define what people thought of me. I was so exhausted of people thinking of me as someone who I wasn’t.

I cared more about what other people thought of me, that I didn’t care what I thought of myself.

Since deleting Twitter, I have become such a more healthier person. It seems dumb that deleting an app can make that big of a difference, but to me it did. I thought that I was only cool because of my Twitter. My self worth was reflected by a social media app. I wanted to prove to myself that I define who I am — not how many likes or retweets I get. I know now that I have so much more to offer in life than an account on the internet. I know now that I don’t have to hide my sadness by attempting to be funny. I learned that I wanted to be more than the lonely girl I felt I was in high school.

I learned how to use social media in a way that not only made me happy, but also was a true authentic reflection of my life and the person I continue to grow and become.

Not allowing the amount of likes to define me has changed me in so many ways. I am not the insecure girl I was in high school/beginning of college. I am not a reflection of my social media presence. It took some time, but now I know my worth and that people love me and accept me for the girl I am- not the girl people wanted me to be.

I thought that when I got to college I would have it all figured out. I knew I wanted to pursue music and create my own songs. I loved the music industry and all the marketing that goes along behind the scenes of it. However, as I started to take different classes and learn more about social media marketing, I found that my true passion was to become a Communication and Digital Studies major. I loved music and knew I wanted a degree in that field, but I also knew that I had a talent for social media and communication. My sophomore year I declared as a double major on the path of not only studying music, but also communication! I was so excited to finally start learning what I truly desired. The more I took communication and digital studies classes, the less I focused on music. I still love being a music major, but I know now that my true passion is to work at social media marketing firm and to run Twitter, Instagram and Facebook campaigns for nonprofit organizations.

I had the opportunity of a lifetime last summer to work at an amazing firm in Washington, DC which overall helped me decide that social media was the path I should focus on. If you asked me three years ago I never would have thought that social media would be a field that I would take on. I was too insecure with myself and used social media as a mask, however growing up and becoming more mature lead me to use the positive qualities I learned from social media to overall help other people with their accounts. I used the hardship of deleting my Twitter to help shape me into be a smarter and more creative person on social media. Although my social media presence was a hardship for me in high school, it was a lesson that helped me find my passion in life. I am so glad I went through a tough time regarding social media because now I know how to be better at something I love.

3. What you think of yourself is more important than what other people think of you.

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone is going to mess up from time to time and do the wrong thing. It’s not expected for us to be perfect, but it’s how we accept the mistakes we made and how we apologize to someone we have hurt that ultimately shows true character. It sucks when someone tries to hurt you and attempts to tear you down because they can’t put their pride aside to apologize and move on. However, we are all constantly learning lessons and trying to grow up. It’s hard when someone you were so close to tries to hurt you, and learning how to be the bigger person throughout it all can be tough. People might spread untrue rumors about you and create lies about the person you are, but the most important thing is to know that you are not the person someone else defines you to be.

“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”

Friendships come and go, relationships begin and end; knowing your worth and accepting the person you are is something that no one can ever take away from you. Rumors are rumors, and only you will know the truth. Anyone else’s opinion on you doesn’t matter- the only opinion that is valid is how you feel about yourself. I’ve finally learned to stop caring so much about what other people think of me in order to become the best version of myself.

Don’t let anyone’s criticism or judgement define who you are.