End of school year shows growth of personal self, success as individual

When I began my freshman year here, I had all sorts of ideas about what college life would be like.

Society tells us that it’s a party, the “best four years of your life,” that time that needs to be cherished before reality sets in. But for me, the experience has been quite different from the stereotypical notions that previously enveloped my mind.

I’ve reached the end of my junior year and, though I still have one year to go, I feel that I’ve acquired enough insight to discuss what I’ve learned from my three years as an undergrad, life lessons that were sometimes painful but ultimately essential for personal growth.

For me, college hasn’t been so much a party as a series of necessary and sometimes harsh life lessons. I don’t mean this in a negative sense; I can honestly assert that this academic school year has taught me the most so far and, though it’s been exceptionally difficult, I’m happy that I’ve gotten the experience.

I learned a lot about who I am and who I want to be. In the past, for instance, I’d often get chastised simply for being my loud, opinionated self.

I still receive some criticism for this attribute, but that is part of who I am, something that I previously couldn’t admit to.

This is largely due to my commencement as an opinion columnist for the newspaper.

Ever since I began writing for a larger audience, I’ve obtained the courage to be even more vocal about my views and have become more willing to let myself learn and grow from the criticism of others.

This is just one experience I’ve had this year for which I am unreservedly grateful.

Another valuable skill I’ve managed to hone this school year is the ability to maintain a balance of “picking my battles” yet also of standing up for myself.

I learned this skill out of sheer necessity, but it wasn’t easy or particularly pleasant.

I’ve had some unfortunate encounters with people who have treated me less than respectfully, and I’ve learned to accept it got to the point where I had to address this problem.

After a number of battles which I chose to let go, I finally learned that there were some which had to be fought, and the feeling of standing up for myself and ultimately ending the disrespect was amazing. I learned that, much of the time, some battles simply aren’t worth fighting, but there comes a point where it becomes necessary to stand up in an effort to maintain self-respect.

This is one of those skills that is handy in all stages of life.

Of all the things that I learned this semester, the idea that I must choose to be happy, even among adversity, is undoubtedly the most prominent.

I learned to focus on the good things in my life; I have great friends and teachers who love me for who I am. I have this opportunity to go to college and get an education, thus opening the doors to even more opportunities to which others may not have access.

I have a lot to be grateful for and, quite frankly, life is too short to let adversity get in the way of my happiness, personal growth and overall success.

These are just a few of the many great lessons that I’m taking away from this school year; self-acceptance, personal strength and the maintenance of happiness.

And while I’m still in the process of learning, the lessons taken from this experience so far will no doubt last a lifetime.

Respond to Autumn at

[email protected]