I was flying to Dallas to put on an event for my new job and I pulled out my Moleskine mid-flight. While I felt cliché writing the words, I forced myself to write the words “What I learned in 4 years of college:” on one of the pages. As I stared out the window as we soared above the clouds, I tried to look back over four years of college and boil down the most important lessons I learned so I could share with others who were about to enter college, are in my same shoes, or need to be reminded. I jotted down a list of 13 on the flight. In no way is the even close to an exhaustive list, but, as I look over them, they define some of the most important moments of my college experience. While it is all to easy to write endless posts about each statement, I do not want to get lost in the meticulous explanations of rationale that led me to think why I do. I want to offer just enough structure and guidance for you to find yourself in my experiences, in hopes that something I have learned may resonate with you and offer a new perspective to view this season of life. Enjoy.
- People will walk in and out of your life. [Read]
- Know who to hold onto and who to keep open-handed. [Read]
- Get involved in a local church. [Read]
- Live with people who will challenge you. [Read]
- You never know who will become a close friend. [Read]
- Take classes you enjoy, not just GPA boosters. [Read]
- Make new friends, but do not forget old ones. [Read]
- Keep family in the loop on a regular basis. [Read]
- Prioritize urgent, important, and fun. [Read]
Research has shown that people who actually serve other people–whether it be on Sunday mornings at church, at a soup-kitchen during the week, or visiting the homeless on the weekends–are happier and healthier. I would argue that it is more important than just doing something that will give you the “warm fuzzies.” It is essential to understanding who you are and your growth as human being. Up until college, most of us are treated as though we are the center of the universe. Our parents pay for private tutors to help us get desirable grades, hire personal trainers to coach us onto the best teams, and spend much of their paychecks on vacations and presents for us year in, year out. Then, when college hits, you are no longer the center of everyone’s universe. In fact, you are thrown in a dorm with hundreds of other “me-centered” individuals. Professors of huge lecture classes do not care about your individual grades. Upperclassmen do not even give you the time of day. On top of all of that, you have the added pressure of figuring out what you want to do with the rest of your life in just four short years. No wonder depression is on a rampant takeover on college campuses. While there are many factors to consider, focusing on someone other than yourself helps give you a larger understanding, shifting perspective from ourselves. What better way to do that than serving others? Serving others not only helps others but it keeps your selfish side in check as you are continually forced to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. The reality is, there are a plethora of options to serve on a college campus. You can serve your fellow students by running for Student Government. You can get involved and help raise money for a cause, like Relay for Life. You can volunteer at a local food pantry stocking shelves and serving meals. You can sign up to lead a small group at your local church or help direct traffic in the parking lot. Or, if you cannot find something that fits your skill set, start your own–just take Shop With A Bulldawg for example. The excuse “I just don’t know where I can serve” does not work anymore. There are plenty of opportunities; find one. I will guarantee it will make someone else’s life better because of the impact you have on them, and, you never know, your life could be changed for the better as well. Go serve.