College is one of the most rapidly changing periods in your life. While all this change may be great, making new friends, meeting cute boys, going to parties, becoming an “adult”, it isn’t everything. While you should be changing in college, its important to not lose sight of who you are. With all these changes happening, its important to stick to your guns and not change completely.
I came to college as a Christian. 3 weeks in I started a long distance relationship. I came into college as someone who didn’t really party. I came to college as a swimmer-turned-runner who liked to work out. When I came to college, I found out that it was really hard to stay true to those things. People will tell you quickly that your religion is stupid. That it is invalidated by science, that it has no proof. They will tell you that your long distance relationship will fail, that there are plenty of boys at your school and that you should date one of them because its easier. People will tell you that you should drink because everyone else does and if you don’t, you’re a law-abiding citizen whose afraid to get caught. People will yell at you when you go to work out, tell you that you don’t need to, that you don’t need to watch what you eat because the freshman 15 isn’t real.
DON’T LISTEN TO THEM.
Spiritual: Sticking to your guns is hard. If you decide your religion isn’t for you, then great, more power to you. But that wasn’t me. Without it, I became depressed, lost, and alone. Once I knew that I wasn’t someone who could abandon their faith, I made changes. Pencil in 15 minutes of quiet time a day, or a week, or a month, to take time for yourself and your faith. Spiritual growth is a huge part of college, and to miss out on it is a major loss. Reconnect, reflect, redirect. What other people think about your religion doesn’t matter because it isn’t theirs, its yours. Keep it close, its personal. Grow in it, learn, and change. Spiritual development never stops, it is constant, and it is what makes us who we are. The people who are kind, wonderful, inspirational, and motivating are grounded in something beautiful and they let it show in their actions. Be the person who inspires others to be better.
[This is a great link on how to keep the faith in college.
Relationships: I won’t lie to you, a long distance relationship is hard. Even more difficult is dating a college athlete. My boyfriend lives 600 miles away and runs cross country and track for a Division 1 school. While I wish I could be at every single one of his meets, I can’t be. But whats important is showing that you care. I send him care packages, I try to make it to their travel meets that are a bit closer to Ohio, and I try to see him once a month. He visits when he can, and we make it work. FaceTime, phone calls, and good-old-fashioned snail mail helps. The key part is that we show each other we care and make our relationship our first priority. Trust, faith, and love get us through it. Every day someone tells me that it won’t work, and every day we make a choice that it will. Relationships work because you choose that person every day, every morning, and every night. Relationships in college are very different from high school. If long distance isn’t for you, find a good guy on campus. Hint: they aren’t at house parties. They’re in the library, or the gym, or in one of the service clubs. As long as they make you a better person and help you grow, that is what a relationship is about. It could be from across the hallway or across the country, but they should be someone who makes you happy and supports you.
Partying: This is simpler than you think. Whether you are someone who parties or not, doing it or not doing it doesn’t make you a good or bad person. Its how some people unwind, others forget that they have lots of homework, others because they just like to party. Whats important is that you balance your classes, social life, and extracurriculars with partying. If you personally choose not to go out, stick to your guns and find someone to stay in with you. You won’t be alone. Plenty of people find that friday nights are great for catching up on sleep or their shows that they missed throughout the week. College is about having fun, but you have thousands of nights to go out. Don’t make it the night before your big exam that you forgot to study for just because the TG of the week sounds like a good time. Party if you want, but don’t let it consume you.
Health: It’s not easy to be healthy in college. The entire first week at Ohio State is Welcome Week, which is when there’s fair food around every corner and people consuming as much of it as they can. You get food with your new friends and when 4 people in a row order a burger and fries, its hard to order a salad without apologizing. Don’t apologize. Order your salad, then go for a run. In 3 months you’ll thank yourself when your friends start noticing that their jeans don’t fit right, they’re bloated, and feel like crap. Instead, you’ll ward off the freshman 15, be more focused, and well energized. Simply doing 30 minutes of exercise a day, 5 days a week can help you maintain weight, help you heal better from infections that spread like wildfires through campus dorms, and increase your memory. Drink your water, do your squats, get your sleep. If you treat your body well, it will reward you.
When everything seems to be changing all at once, as many students do, stick to what you know. You don’t need to change your entire life, just small parts of it. Becoming an adult, a real college student, is learning to balance the various parts of your life. Fight for your religion, relationships, your personal values, and your health. People may try to bring you down, don’t let them. Stick to your guns, fight for yourself. After all, if you don’t, who will?