Everything I Learned in Four Years: Part 13

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.

  1. People will walk in and out of your life. [Read]
  2. Know who to hold onto and who to keep open-handed. [Read]
  3. Get involved in a local church. [Read]
  4. Live with people who will challenge you. [Read]
  5. You never know who will become a close friend. [Read]
  6. Take classes you enjoy, not just GPA boosters. [Read]
  7. Make new friends, but do not forget old ones. [Read]
  8. Keep family in the loop on a regular basis. [Read]
  9. Prioritize urgent, important, and fun. [Read]
  10. Serve somewhere [Read]
  11. Learn from someone older, inside and outside your field of study. [Read]
  12. Have a general plan that is open to change. [Read]
  13. Rest!

It seems like more and more American culture has valued busyness: work longer hours at the office, come home and finish up what you did not finish on the clock, transport the family from one place to the other, or run from store to store doing errands on your days off. It is easy to get caught up in this mindset in the “grown-up” world, but college is the breeding ground for this behavior. Mornings are hated and avoided if at all possible, but when classes do start you end up running late for one, if not all of them, at some point. Move from class to meetings with groups for class, then to snagging a snack between classes, then to hang out with friends before dinner. After dinner, it is more driving or walking to more friends before you realize the test you have the next day. Then it becomes a frantic study session into the wee hours of the morning before dragging yourself to class. This is not everyone’s cycle in college, but it is too many to be ignored. We rush from social interaction to social interaction spliced with moments of work or food; no wonder it is so easy to adopt the fast-paced culture of corporate America after graduation. It is the only natural option after four years of going, going, going. How to break this unhealthy cycle? The answer is not hard: rest. We know this. The problem is we do not rest well. We rest by still being plugged in electronically, socially, and emotionally. We do not truly rest. Instead we substitute our busyness for a different kind of busyness—spontaneous road trips, late-night partying, and so much more. Hear me, these are not bad things that should never be experienced. The point is when every spare moment is living from one adrenaline-filled opportunity to the next, your “highs” become exponential and your “lows” become deeper. We have to learn the point of rest is to bring our body, soul, and mind back to equilibrium. While these things can be energetic and fun, you have to learn what good resting actually is because we do not do it well. Maybe it means turning off the cell phone for 2 hours per day. Maybe it means never checking email on Saturdays. Maybe it means clearing your schedule on Wednesday evenings to have a good, long dinner with close friends every week. Whatever it takes for you to unplug, recharge, and get back to equilibrium, do it. Work hard when you have to, rest hard when you have the opportunity.

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