Image from StockSnap.

Image from StockSnap.

My freshman year of college was an absolute whirlwind. In ten months’ time I experienced some of the best days of my life along with some of the worst days.I found myself constantly jumping out of my comfort zone to get the most out of my university experience. I definitely made some mistakes along the way but I would not trade a second of my freshman year for anything. I grew more as a person than I ever could have imagined. Reflecting on the past year has made me realize all the important lessons that I have learned throughout the months of being a college student and how they have shaped me into the person I have become over the past year.

1. Gratitude is an important aspect of love

When I moved away to college I was filled with pure excitement for my newfound independence. My family was hours away and I couldn’t have been more ready to branch out and make a new life for myself. However, along the journey of my freshman year I learned to appreciate my parents and family members more than I ever had before. I realized that my parents would sacrifice anything to help me succeed in life and that they would be there for me even if no one else was. For the first time in my life I was able to understand what it truly meant to appreciate my loved ones. People often leave our lives way too soon and I didn’t want to regret taking the people I loved the most for granted. Distance truly does have a way of making the heart grow fonder.

2. Confidence is essential to happiness

For most of my life I was completely and utterly insecure. I had little to no confidence in myself. I looked around at girls I grew up with and admired their seemingly perfect hair, bodies, and outgoing personalities. I wanted to be anybody but who I actually was.

During my first year of college I made a dramatic effort to change this mindset for the better. I started living by the saying, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” I realized that if I aspired to be confident there was nothing stopping me besides my own self. I started believing in myself, loving myself, and became truly content with who I am as a person. I stopped letting cruel words from past judgements affect me. I started to become the person I wanted to be. As a result, I became happier than I have ever been before. There are still days where an insecurity or two linger in the back of my mind but I don’t let them define me. I define myself.

3. Forgiveness is never a weakness

I began to learn quickly in college that there would be times in my life where I would be hurt. Times where I would be hurt by the people I thought would never hurt me. I realized there were going to be situations where I was going to be lied to, judged, and mistreated. Unfortunately, this is an inevitable part of life. However, I began to realize that how I chose to deal with these situations would represent who I was as a person.

During my freshman year there were times when I wanted nothing more than to lash out, seek revenge, and let hatred consume me. But instead I chose forgiveness. I didn’t choose forgiveness because it was the easy thing to do or because I was weak. I chose forgiveness because if I chose to not forgive then I would be shackling myself to past events that had hurt me and as a result I would be stuck living in bitterness. I would only be hurting myself if I stayed angry and hateful. Time only goes in one direction and that is forward. I couldn’t go back and change the past but I did have the choice on how I let if affect me.

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