I recently noticed that there is a lot of content out there that offers advice about adolescence, but what about those somewhat-still-coming-of-age years that occur between the ages of 18-22? I decided to take a trip down memory lane (not that it was that long ago!) and assess what would have been some helpful advice to have in my back pocket as I walked the campus.
Earlier this year, a book was published by a Princeton mom that encouraged women to spend 75% of their time in college looking for a man. Now, if I had done that, not only would I have failed every class from desperately attending every party on campus in search of a man, but I have a feeling that I would have ended up settling and as a result would resent the fact that I missed my college academic experience because I was focusing on finding Mr. Right. I totally get the point that college is a great place to find the right match, given the fact that you are surrounded by intellectual guys around your age, but the pressure should not be put on girls. Trust me, ladies, there are plenty of men outside of those four years and it is best to just stay open and trust that love will happen when it should.
2. Know that it is okay to not be conventionally pretty.
I am talking about what you might think of when you picture ‘sorority girls’. You do not have to be blond, tall, have big boobs, be petite and wear the latest trends to be a beautiful person who will attract cute guys. We have all discussed the issue of what it means to be ‘pretty’ by pop culture standards, but just know that what will make you appealing to others is confidence in yourself and being proud of your unique qualities. I mean, if we all looked like Elle Woods, how boring would our world be? So from day one that you set foot on campus, you get to be your number #1 fan because of who you bring to the table from the get-go.
3. Study hard, but also remember to have fun.
So it is definitely 100% important to focus on your studies while at school. That’s obvious. However, looking back and being as laser-focused as I was during those years, I wish someone would have told me to just enjoy the moment more. Maybe they did, come to think of it, but I wish I had been more open to hearing that solid advice that applies to your entire life. I think the key is to prioritize your time, setting aside the necessary amount needed for studying, and then make sure you enjoy all the activities your school has to offer. Go to football games, join that club you are curious about, volunteer, go on dates (remember it doesn’t have to be the one, but be careful). Live in the moment and simply enjoy being between the ages of 18-22.
4. Ladies, seriously, be careful on campus and watch out for each other.
By now we have all heard about the unfortunate disappearance of UVA student Hannah Graham. We sadly have all heard about many other similar cases as well, and are unfortunately living in a world where predators do lurk in areas where there are vulnerable, beautiful, young women. College campuses are the perfect location for these terrible people to find victims, and the best you can do to prevent another incident like this from occurring is to watch out for each other – especially when drinking. We have all made dumb decisions when drinking and our judgment is impaired, so a strong way to combat vulnerability would be to always be in the know of where your friends are and to also watch each other’s drinks. I know we have all heard this, but having this solidly in your mind as you head to college is vital. Yes, try not to drink until 21, but if you do beforehand, be responsible and don’t overdo it. It’s not worth the risk. There were some times in college where I can remember making dumb choices such as walking home alone late at night from a party. Stupid choice on my end that was motivated by false courage from being intoxicated, and I encourage you all to not take the same risk. Help Save The Next Girl is a great nonprofit to look into, which helps to sensitize young women and girls to predatory danger. Some colleges have chapters that can be found on their site.
5. Lastly, you don’t have to know what you want to do at 18.
I think there is a lot of societal pressure to choose at a young age what professional path you are going to take. I remember after watching the classic collegiate football film Rudy when I was 10 that I was going to be a doctor and go to Notre Dame. Of course, things changed when I got to middle school and could not dissect the frog, but I still had that sense of urgency to decide and lock in a career choice. Looking back, however, I wish that I could just have let myself enjoy Rudy for, well, Rudy. Maybe this pressure to pick careers is because of playing that timeless game called LIFE (thanks, Parker Brothers) where you start thinking about your career label after picking the ‘doctor’, ‘lawyer’, or ‘rock star’ card. Now, obviously it is wonderful to have ambition and to have a clear focus of where you are heading, but for all you seniors out there, just know it is okay to be open to new interests and professional interests that might come into your life. When I was 18, I did not have a real understanding of what it meant when people would say ‘You are going to evolve’. It took time to grasp the concept that as I changed as a person and life threw unexpected circumstances my way, my interests and aspirations would shift. So, overall, just remember to be open.
Bethany Heinrich is the VP, Content & Community at Mogul.
This article was previously published by Mogul