Now that I’m out of college and in the “real world,” it’s nice to be able to look back and reflect on the time that I’d been away from my hometown and how I’ve grown as well as who I’ve become since I left. When I started college in New York City, I was this mild-mannered girl from a small beach town in New Jersey. I had no idea how subways worked and no clue how to cook something more challenging than mac and cheese. Not to mention, I had never really been submerged in an area with such a diversity of people. I surrounded myself with a big group of friends and found myself growing up, changing into a more independent woman, and figuring out who I was, as well as what the world was like. Here are a few lessons I learned in the past few years:
- You will lose some friends. And it’s ok. I remember being really bummed about losing some of my high school friends. I had a handful of girls I considered my best friends in high school that kind of disappeared once we all found ourselves spread out across the country for college. The same happened when I graduated college. But don’t fret; the ones that want to remain friends with you will make it happen. You’ll get texts about visiting and regular phone calls. It’s a two-way street though so be sure to reach out to them, too.
- It’s smart to get out of your bubble. It’s easy to keep doing the same things as always. Humans like ritual. But forcing yourself to go on that ski trip or go to that party where you only know one person might actually end up being the best thing for you.
- If you find yourself trying to change for a boy, get out of the situation. Girl (or boy), trust me, I’ve been there. I remember dating a boy who never made me feel 100% comfortable being myself. I always tried to be more amicable and easygoing than I really felt and this led to me erupting one day and ending things on bad terms. Needless to say, it took him by surprise.
- Don’t be fake. If someone does something to upset you, whether it’s a boss or friend, find a mature and appropriate way to let them know. You should always be honest with how you feel and stand up for yourself when necessary. Even if you lose a friendship, it probably wasn’t a real friendship, to begin with.
- Force yourself to be alone sometimes. I flew alone to London to study abroad, and it was the first time I truly remember feeling scared then morphing that fear into an independence that I’ve never lost. I make myself eat alone at restaurants and shop alone in my spare time. I have learned to find comfort in just being by myself.