By Mikayla Kimery
Former Hype Writer
You know the drill, the summer before you head to college you get all the fun flyers in the mail telling you what you need and what you don’t need to bring to your dorm. Things like bring towels, your toiletries, bedding, but don’t worry about your coffee machine (which by the way that’s a lie, bring them, you won’t regret it).
But what about the mental things that you should be packing with you? If I had made the time to personally prepare myself more for this huge transition, my first year at college would have been a lot easier.
So below I’m sharing five things that I have grown in during my undergrad career, and I encourage you to think about them as you get ready for this next step. It will make a huge difference!
Time Management Skills
“Don’t procrastinate” is easier said than done, right? But it doesn’t have to be that way. I used to be a chronic procrastinator just because I was so busy. But once I realized that I could manage my time in a way that let me get everything I needed to done, and still have free time to myself, I never went back.
By scheduling out your week – for the most part – and your day before it begins, you’ll find that you can actually leave a lot of room for yourself and still get everything done. It might sound crazy, but by scheduling out my time by the hour I found myself way more productive, motivated, and happier at the end of the day knowing I accomplished what I set out to achieve.
What’s important is that you know when your classes are, when you’re going to take time to study and do homework, and most importantly, when you are going to take care of yourself.
Pictured below is a free printable that I am always using to schedule out my hours, you’ll see I color coded it but that’s not completely necessary. What’s important is that you know when your classes are, when you’re going to take time to study and do homework, and most importantly, when you are going to take care of yourself.
You might think, “Oh, but I’m too busy to relax” or “I can never find time for myself”; well, I’ll tell you that you’re absolutely correct about not finding the time because you have to make the time. If that means getting up an hour earlier than usual to take time for personal development, you do it. If that means taking one day a week to rest and do absolutely no work, you do it.
Schedule out time for yourself just like you would for work or school, and you’ll see a huge difference. I learned this from a book, “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod, and I definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to change their life. However, it’s not just a magic book, you have to make the time and stick to your routine for it to work, just like you would to develop a skill or talent.
The fact of the matter is that time is precious, and you’ll find out too late just how fast time goes in college. Because I did Running Start, it feels like I just arrived at CWU and I’m already graduating. Time is crazy, so if you’re going to make the most out of your time here, you might as well do it in a way that benefits you to the max, right? And sometimes, that means cutting other things out of your life to maximize your time during the day.
A Willingness to Let Go of the Little Things
For lack of better words, I equalize this to a “I don’t give a ___” attitude. I can’t tell you how many times I was late to class because I had to do my make-up, otherwise I would be unpresentable to the people around me. Or, felt like I had to go to an event otherwise my friend group might not invite me in the future. Wrong.
First of all, as long as you’ve showered (or smell like you did) and you’re neat enough in what you’re wearing, people are not going to care, or even notice. Be confident in yourself to know that hey, maybe you didn’t have time to curl your hair for an hour because you were studying early in the morning and lost track of time, but you’re still killing it and now you’re going to ace that midterm. You are you, and you were made to be yourself. I know that’s cliché but it’s the honest truth. The more time you spend worrying about your appearance, the more time you’ll waste when you could be fulfilling other activities and commitments.
And this stretches farther than appearance issues too. Maybe your friends invited you out to ice cream at Winegars, but you’d rather stay at home and read or rest. There is nothing wrong with that! As long as you communicate to your friends when the offer is made that you are not interested in going, you have done nothing wrong. If they’re good friends, they’ll understand and invite you next time! If not, then what does that say about them as friends?
If you wait to cancel until the last minute even though you knew you didn’t want to go from the beginning, now you’re not being a really great friend.
Again, this is another one of those “easier said than done” matters, but you can’t fill your brain with anxiety about what other people think about you. It doesn’t matter, you can’t control other people’s thoughts, and you have way better things to be filling your time and mental capacity with.
A Humble Kindness
I want to be clear that a heightened self-confidence and commitment to taking care of yourself does not mean you should be a selfish jerk. Just because you know how great you are and how well you’re kicking a**, doesn’t mean you have to bring others down to make yourself shine.
Make friends with people, find a community, create a support system, because just like the Beatles sang, “We all need somebody to lean on.” There are going to be times during the year -especially in the winter if you’re like me- where you need someone to just keep you on track and to remind you of reality. You could be all stressed out about a final and think the world is ending, and all you need is someone to slap you out of it. Basically like Edna Mode. Find an Edna Mode that lovingly strengthens you to hold yourself together – minus the slapping.
You have to remember that we’re all human and there is nothing wrong with asking for help. It’s really hard to be vulnerable and open, but find those few people that you trust, and do not hesitate or be embarrassed to tell them when you’re struggling. Chances are, they’re in the same boat and have been waiting for someone to share the load with.
This is one of the lighter items in your suitcase, but I cannot stress to you enough how good of a place college is to try new experiences and learn about yourself. You are surrounded by people who – for the most part – have no clue what they’re doing in life and are looking for some guidance and direction. How do you find that path? You learn what you love! Try new things and use process of elimination to decide what is best for you.
The most important thing to remember is that you make your destiny, you make your trail, and no one can take that away from you. So use the time you have now to learn things in a safe and supportive environment. Then when the time comes to enter the world and start life completely on your own, you’ll be mentally and emotionally ready to tackle any challenges that come your way.
It doesn’t mean it won’t be hard. College is a scary time at first, but that’s why you adopt the humble yet fearless attitudes I mentioned above and realize you’re not alone in this journey. Take risks, make mistakes and learn from them, and never be afraid to reach out for help. The faculty and staff at your university are there to support, encourage, and guide you as you navigate this time in your life. Take advantage of that and advocate for your adventure; which, leads me to the last and your most vital packing item.
It may not be on college packing lists, but we see it everywhere. Don’t be peer pressured, don’t let someone push you into things you don’t want to do, etc. But I’m here to tell you from personal experience – not some tobacco commercial – that having a voice for yourself isn’t just important, it’s absolutely imperative to making the most out of your life, and taking care of yourself.
Look at it this way, you should treat your voice like your favorite plant, or food, or whatever other random object that you want to equate it to. You’ve carried your voice with you your whole life, and it has grown with you. Nourish it, cherish it, and be proud to raise it for what you believe.
You’re going to come into college with some beliefs and values of your own, and you need to grip those tightly. While college can be a great place to express yourself and learn about others’ beliefs and cultures, it is also easy to fall into a trap of manipulation because you share a common identity with people.
I’m not just talking about falling into a trap at a party where you’re pressured into drinking or smoking or something even worse (which are realistic situations that you need to prepare for), this type of pressure can happen in way less obvious situations; such as, sports, clubs, or in my case religious affiliations.
You can hold something in common with another group, person, or institution, but that does not mean you have to be all or nothing in order to stay involved. You do not have to be forced into a cookie cutter shape just to belong, and if you begin to feel like you are, get out while you can.
It’s nerve-wracking, but you have to take that first step in preserving you, what you believe in, and your voice. Stand up for yourself! Like I mentioned before, there’s ways to do this without being rude or inconsiderate. You can still be respectful and civil to those you involved yourself with before, but that does not mean you have to continue feeling like you will only belong if you do a, b & c.
The takeaway is that if you can’t utilize your voice in the smaller, less-threatening situations, how do you expect to use it in those times where it’s really critical?
Remember how I said that college was the perfect time to try new things and learn from experience? Well it’s also the perfect place and time to root yourself in what you believe is right. You are going to receive so much nourishment from the people you choose to surround yourself with, so don’t be tricked into taking in roundup versus fresh water and sunlight (yeah that was a corny GMO reference). Grow in your roots on your terms, with your own methods of harvesting. The sooner you figure this out and make changes to your habits and who you associate with, the happier you’ll be knowing you made these decisions for yourself, without sacrificing your integrity.
The personal qualities and abilities that you cultivate during college are skills that will benefit you for the rest of your life. By taking the time now to root yourself, you’ll find that harvesting your work later in life is much more rewarding.