17 things I wish I could tell my 17 year old self
The time post high school and the beginning of college is one where you’re exhilarated about life possibilities. You’ve seen all stereotypes about partying hard like there is no tomorrow, long all-night parties, going through ‘casual’ relationships and creating great group pacts! Well, all of this happens, but not how you imagined.
1. There is no life in the party, it’s all just a show-off.
Parties aren’t the truth about university life. It’s more than what you’d expect. It’s not disco balls, and shining clothes, eventually it’s just three bottles of cheap alcohol, probably a sleazy joint in a dim lit room, that you and some of your hopeless buddies ‘enjoy’ in the name of partying. In between, there would be some dancing, music and food for the Instagram stories, but otherwise it’s just a bluff, so there is literally no FOMO.
2. Life after college isn’t fancy and well-paid, it’s difficult.
Life when you leave college won’t leave you with a well-paid for house and bucket loads of money, it’s difficult. Adulting ain’t easy. Apart from that, when you leave college, the first few days are terrible. Adjusting to a new environment, probably shifting base, moving back to your folks, making new friends or adjusting to your new 9 to 5, it is a taxing task. You’ll want to run back to your dorm room and binge on netflix, but you can’t do that anymore! Real life will hit you real hard.
3. Casual relationships are never going to stay casual, one of you is going to have their heart broken.
So, this entire hoo haa about getting into serious relationships or rather casual ones, is all going to happen, yet more or less — it all ends. I’m positive many found their soulmates in the college corridors, yet, it’s not a dreamy tale for all of us. Hook ups and ‘casual’ dating sounds fun and games, but when you’re down to it, one of you will definitely get more emotionally invested than the other, heartbreak is real. It can impact your mental health in no time, and you will see some real Fs on your sheets, or your fuck-buddy’s sheets. And though neither of you’re to blame, things will go hay-wired from here. One of you might want to get into a relationship, the other might oblige, and you might have some great days you’ll remember for the rest of your life, but other than that, it’s going downhill in the long run!
4. You will be questioning your identity in the world, and within yourself but your bubble of reality will burst post college.
It’s easy to live your life in a bubble of college. You might think you’re independent, and that challenging your identity is the right thing to do, but simply once that happens — identity crisis strikes once you leave. Since, this is time when you start looking at yourself as a part of the institution. Challenge your identity not because it’s cool or new and looks fascinating but because it truly is something that you feel like doing. And if that doesn’t feel right, snap out of it while you can. Even sexuality is on a spectrum, it may change with every person you meet. So be mindful of getting into something, and if you’re quite engrossed, try to move on and snap out, one baby step at a time.
5. Friends for college might not be friends for life.
Unlike the romanticized versions of friendships shown in films, friendships go through fall — outs and break ups and they’re way worse than relationships breaking apart. Those who you’d start your first semester with, might not stay until the last, and those who you’ve spent you last few semesters with, might leave you and ghost right at the day of your convocation. No, you might never speak again, but that’s the brutal truth. People change and relationships change.
6. Eventually, everyone leaves. No one stops for you — not the friends who promised you to stay for life, neither those who said we’ll fail together.
People move. They change. Some like to explore new places, some like to get back in their cozy home with folks. Everyone has their own life to chase post campus life. Grow out of it, living in your college town isn’t going to be a great choice unless you are strong headed enough to be sure of your decisions. Returning to college town will be fun, probably reunions will be amazing and there will be lots to do but take your time and claim your space before post college existential crisis kills you.
7. College isn’t about flunking classes, and fooling around. It’s more important to work hard, identify and get better at what you’re good at.
With sensual scenes about college life popular media often make us forget that college is a haven for professional education. It takes a lot of effort, consistency and practice to get good and better at something that you are passionate about! You cannot just be on auto pilot, find something you really like and then make sure you don’t stop progressing!
8. Your ‘passion’ at 16 will not stay your ‘passion’ at 21
Many of us may enter college with what we have in our minds at the high school level, with your friends and family around, with stereotypical ideas about life, probably also adrenaline infused pop culture influenced ideas that we may call our 'passion’. In college you will truly realise what are those things that you want to do, the impact that you want to create and how cultivating passions is a life long journey not a single route or goal!
9. Maturity doesn’t come by staying in your college dorm. It comes by taking responsibility for your shit.
This is one place I really lacked. All through my years my roommates became close friends who cared for me like a mom. I let them mommy me for the longest time. All my friendships and relationships have been about mommy-ing me around instead of being good adults together. For the longest time I lived in the delusion that I was capable of being independent when that was truly not the case! So when in the dorm or your own apartment start taking responsibility not only of your laundry but your emotions, mental health, physical health and food habits!
10. You will realize that love and passion alone aren’t enough for a fulfilled life, it is living a balanced life.
People say you should find someone you can’t live without. I would rather say, find someone you can live with instead. If you can’t live without someone that’s not just passion, it’s an obsession that will make it difficult to even identify yourself by the time you leave college or fall out. Space is an important aspect of any relationship! Be careful. Don’t cross those lines, and if you do that be aware.
11. Physical and mental health can’t be taken for granted. Just because you can eat fast food and live on tequila, doesn’t mean you stop drinking water.
Yes. This is very important. I have seen my friends convert their homes into haven for partying all day and all night. The 'aroma' of Mary Jane and the reek of alcohol never seemed to leave! This looks too cool, but only you can take charge of your participation. Don’t take your health for granted because right now sure your body can handle 20 cigerretes, hookah, Mary Jane and some tequila shots together — eventually, it will show up. Make sure your post party ritual isn’t more partying but taking care of yourself and your hangover.
12. Most stereotypes are a joke. Don’t fall prey to an image, do what you think you want to do.
Stereotyping hasn’t helped anyone. Typecasts are just a way for people to define you within some boundaries they think that you should be in. But the truth is you can break these, and really do what you want to. No one can claim what your space is, so be free and be experimental with whatever it is that you feel is right for you.
13. People will be envious of you, no matter what you do. And it will affect you.
Jealousy is a natural human instinct. It’s ingrained in our brains since childhood. Some of us get jealous and possessive when we see our once close friends now invested in other people. When things are going right for you, there will be many jealous of you, similarly when things go right for someone else, you’re likely to be envious of one or another aspect of their lives that you place on a pedestal.
14. Therapy is good, embrace it while you can. Don’t let your frustrations out on your buddies and partners, find a professional!
Frustrations are a part of life. Often your friends, boyfriends and girlfriends become your sounding board for everything. We are so obsessed with our own issues that we just speak, gain attention and often others get so bothered by our behavior that they want a respite. Instead, go to a professional sounding board, like a therapist. They help you deal with and process things out. Sometimes it is important to be strong and able to manipulate your brain — that’s the key.
15. Your parents know it when you’re fooling around. They’ve more often than not, ‘been there, done that’ so stop lying to them. Be honest, it will only help nurture the relationship.
Parents know it. They can read your face and make out what is going on in your life. Well, sharing every nitty gritty of your life may not be something you’d like to do, but be honest about what your state of mind is, or how things are going in life. Maybe you don’t share the exact issues, keep them informed about what is coming next.
16. Only your family is permanent for you, no one else is. Never give up on them.
I can’t stress this enough. However repulsive or rebellious you were all through your college years, they will never leave your back. They are going to be there for you, long after you realize the pain they’ve suffered. It isn’t easy to be able to keep ends meeting when there are demands and unnecessary quarrels, but you’ve got to learn how to keep things together. In the end, don’t give up on them, they will always have your back.
17. Only discipline takes you forward, not procrastination, not mindless binge sessions, nor reckless parties. The ‘aha’ moment doesn’t come in the middle of tequila shots, but after disciplined hours you pulled on towards something.
Whatever it is can wait, your passion is something that fuels your life. So yes, party hard, hustle and slay, but always be proactive in your work. Discipline yourself with a routine that sets work at a higher stage. The ‘aha’ moment will come only after you’ve been reading, thinking and doing what is necessary for the project at hand.
College isn’t as glamorous as it seems, it’s a driveway to the real world, yet far from it. I wish I had said these 17 things to myself before I came in. However, at 21, I think I can say these things a lot more clearly.
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Thanks for reading!