Guide to college life part IV: Live for the unexpected

Before you come to college, everyone tells you the things to expect.

They tell you about the horrors of the freshman 15, how you’ll find “the friends that become family” and that you will probably meet your husband among the many suitors on campus.

But from what I have learned the past four years, the things that have really impacted my college experience were the things that  happened unexpectedly.

Some of us didn’t gain the freshman 15, but rather, the sophomore 25.  Sophomore year is the year for misfits.  Just as in high school, you aren’t the new kid on the block but you aren’t an upperclassman just yet.

When I was a sophomore, I thought I had figured everything out.  I went to almost every date party I desired, kept a 3.5 GPA and was surrounded by my pledge class in Hillcrest.

I thought I was living the dream until I realized I had packed on pounds from many nights of going out and late-night eating. I was always sick from lack of sleep and most days I honestly felt like crawling back into bed and never leaving. But, at the end of my sophomore year came something unexpected.

That summer I attended Hangout Music Festival with some of my closest friends.  Now, you are probably going to roll your eyes when I say that my experience there changed me; but it did.  It opened my eyes to a whole new culture I had never experienced before, where defying conventionality was praised, not frowned upon.

From that summer on, I decided I wanted to explore different facets of myself to find more things or ideas I was passionate about.

At the end of my sophomore year and continuing into my junior year, my friends were getting into relationships left and right.  It seemed like I was always taking a “bro” to my date parties or hooking my best guy friends up with my best lady friends.  Here I was 20 years old and I felt like my biological clock was just ticking away.

At that point in my life, I thought I was in love; I really did.  But from many unexpected occurrences that year and the summer following, I realized I didn’t value myself enough to love another person like I thought I did. 

From these events came my need to prove my self-worth.  I took up writing, made an effort to eat better and stopped putting effort into some of the toxic relationships in my life.  You have to love yourself in order to love someone else. 

 So, if you don’t have someone or if you have found someone and aren’t as happy as you feel you deserve, take this advice and look out for number one and everything will fall into place.

During my first year of college I didn’t meet a stranger.  I was known by many as “that girl with the high-waist shorts.”  By the end of my freshman year, I couldn’t walk across campus without seeing 10 friendly faces. 

I’m not saying this to toot my own horn, but I want everyone to know that I didn’t learn until this year, my last year at Southern Miss, who my true friends were.  Unexpected things happened. And let me tell you, this year has not been a walk in the park. 

But through the hard times, I know now who has my back and who doesn’t.  Trust me when I say that I wouldn’t trade that knowledge for the world.

In this last segment of my column series, I want to point out that college is never going to be what you expect.  Things happen, people change and you truly begin to find yourself despite the chaos.  My last piece of advice is that you shouldn’t take anything for granted.  

Whether you have just experienced the best moment or the worst moment of your life, don’t take it for granted because, like I said, sometimes it’s the unexpected things that make all the difference.