People will tell you that college years are the best of your life and to just enjoy them. I agree -- having fun is great. But I think you need to do more. You can max out these years by embracing new ideas and challenging yourself.
Opportunities open up to you every day. Good stuff doesn’t happen by accident. It takes some effort, so jump in. Take an elective outside your major. You might find your bliss. Go to plays and concerts. Join a club or try a new sport. Play, listen, sing and dance to all kinds of music. Read the books, blogs and magazines that other students are talking about. Stay up late talking about controversial topics. Learn to sit and listen to someone you don’t agree with.
Develop the habit of doing one new thing each day -- like taking a different route to classes or sitting in a different chair. Investigate Study Abroad, sign up for a volunteer activity like Alternative Spring Breaks, or find a mentor. Keep a journal of your progress in pushing your personal envelope, and notice how your courage and confidence increase.
Some new things will be hard, and that’s good. Accept being uncomfortable -- don’t run away from it. Listen to your inner “tweaks” and recognize them as signposts for growth. If you work with them, you may find a lifelong friend or pastime. As you get more confident with processing all your feelings, you may avoid the pitfall of deadening your inner turmoil with alcohol, drugs or risky behavior.
Lastly, be patient with yourself. As an infant learning to walk, you stumbled and fell. Your efforts were still applauded by others. When you stumble now, applaud yourself for trying. Then pick yourself up and keep going.
Every day in August, Campus Overload will feature a 300-word-or-less essay centered around one piece of #College101 advice for the Class of 2015. To participate, e-mail Jenna at email@example.com.