An Honest Reflection on My College Experience // What I Learned

 

It still hasn’t quite hit me yet that I have graduated. I think it will really sink in when I don’t go back for preseason this fall, since I have been going to preseason for the past 8 years! I thought it would be nice to do this post for anyone who can relate or maybe anyone who can learn something from what I have learned the past 4 years.

Let me begin by saying that context is key. No one will have the same experience in college, even if you go to the same school. For me, I went to a small liberal arts school and played field hockey. A lot of what I learned or went through definitely are impacted from these factors.

  1. Confidence. Confidence is definitely one of they most important and impactful things I have learned the past 4 years. High school was hard. I even went to a really small school (graduated with 36 kids) and definitely struggled a lot with caring about if I “fit in” or what was “cool”. Freshman year of college was pretty much the same. It was a completely new life I was living in a new place with a new level of field hockey. Everything was new, which was very intimidating to me. I wasn’t the best field hockey player anymore, I was sharing a room with 2 complete strangers, I was taking classes that I had no previous knowledge in and it was definitely overwhelmed. Everything was better after freshman year. Mostly because I wasn’t a freshman. I came into preseason knowing what to expect, I got to pick my roommate and our room for that year, I had a better foundational knowledge in my classes, and just wasn’t a freshman! I played a little more on the field, which definitely helped me gain more confidence in myself on and off the field. Finally, I felt like my hard work was paying off. In the spring of my sophomore year, I was extremely grateful to be elected captain of my team. The day my coach told me the news, she also told me everything I had up against me. She told me that I would need to toughen up a bit, because my bubbly personality at times could seem like everything was rainbows and butterflies and my team needed a leader, not a cheerleader. She also told me that being so young and not being the best player on the field meant that  I would need to really step up, lead by example and earn each one of my teammates respect. This was definitely the biggest challenge I faced. It was most definitely not all rainbows and butterflies that semester for me. It was  a rocky start as a captain for me. However, I truly learned that if I wasn’t 110% confident in myself, then my teammates wouldn’t be confident in me either. Another one of the biggest things that I leaned was confidence and failure go hand in hand. I always thought that people who were confident, were confident because they didn’t make mistakes! I was wrong. That spring season my coach said something that has stuck with me ever since. She said, you should get excited to fail. Failure means there is a chance to learn and ultimately grow. This mindset I have carried with me on the field, to my job, and everywhere I can in my life, because it has single-handedly made me a more positive and happy person. I quickly realized that its OKAY to make mistakes! Mistakes are not only inevitable, but VALUABLE! This mindset was exactly what I needed in order for me to feel confident in whatever I was doing.
  2. Don’t give in. As I became more confident, I realized what I valued, prioritized and believed in. I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of times I have been pressured to go out on a night I knew I shouldn’t or just feel like I was going to regret not getting drunk 3 nights a week, because that’s what you’re “supposed to do in college”. *eyeroll*. One of the things that I loved from day 1 about my team was that it didn’t matter whether you loved to drink, don’t drink or anywhere in the between, as long as you were safe and represented the team well, we could all have fun together. I love going out with my friends, dancing, and just having fun! I don’t like the mentality of getting “blackout” because I WANT to remember the fun nights and times I create with my friends. I also am a person who genuinely needs 9 hours of sleep a night other wise I literally wake up sick the next morning. I am a personal trainer, so I also know the significance and importance of eating healthy, exercising and staying hydrated. So, going out for me sacrifices these goals that I have for myself. Of course, I did sacrifice my sleep, nutrition and hydration often to go out with my friends and enjoy college! But, for some people that wasn’t enough. I personally don’t care about what people chose to do with their lives, but for some reason a couple people loved to remind me how much I didn’t go out and how I was lame and would regret it. I at first was offended and bothered by these comments, because these people don’t live with me and see what I do everyday or see every night I went out, mostly because I chose not to publicize this on social media, so how would they even know what I do or don’t do with my time?! So, at first, I gave in. I tried to go out more and I regretted it. I found that I tipped the scale on sacrificing too much of what I wanted and believed in and woke up the next morning unhappy. The bottom line is, you are the only one that lives with your own consequences, so chose wisely. I definitely lost a lot of respect for those people, and figured that they in fact were insecure and jealous of my own happiness.
  3. Live in the moment, but set yourself up for the future. I finally feel like I am reaping the benefits of the seeds I planted 4 years ago. First off, I was lucky to have some sort of idea of what I was interested in senior year of high school, so I job shadowed right away. I knew I wanted to do something related to exercise science but didn’t know what. I didn’t see the point in waiting until college to start figuring out what I wanted to do, so I job shadowed a physical therapist in the fall and an athletic trainer in the spring of my senior year in high school. Both, I thought I would like more than I ended up liking, so I weeded those out. During my freshman year winter break, I decided to job shadow my personal trainer that trained me my 4 years in high school. I ended up liking this job better than I thought. So, I asked my personal trainer if I could do an internship with him the summer after my freshman year and he said yes! This internship I repeated every winter break and summer of college and now, I am fully employed by my personal trainer! He has been an incredible mentor to me and has been so patient with me as I was slow at learning the part. Meanwhile, I was still going back to school in between and doing the whole college thing at the same time as I was setting myself up for my future. I think it is so important to immerse yourself fin whatever you think you may be interested in as soon as possible. There’s no reason to wait! Learning about what you don’t want to do is just as important as learning what you do want do to.
  4. Professors can make or break your experience. Lastly, what I have found the most surprising in college is how much professors can make or break your experience. I preach this to my younger teammates: Find a professor you like and take more classes with them! I had an awful experience with my professor in chemistry and for a subject I like, I hated every second of that class and was miserable. It also affected my GPA significantly, which I was also not thrilled about either. I was 1 class away from becoming an American Studies minor, simply because I took so many classes with 1 professor who I loved and enjoyed every class even if the content wasn’t particularly interesting to me. Finding a professor who genuinely cares about you and grades fairly are sometimes hard to come by!
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