I’ve been away for quite some time focusing on work, school, healing, and traveling. I just got back from a trip to Savannnah, Georgia with a few friends. It was awesome, but that’s not why I’m writing today.
I’m writing today because in less than two weeks, the journey that I set out on to get my master’s degree will be over. It’s bittersweet. I am so happy to be done and headed home for an internship with my local newspaper, but I’m also nervous and scared of all of this change. I don’t know where life will take me next. I just don’t have the answers. What I do have, however, are 10 lessons I’ve learned since enrolling at the University of Georgia. I want to share them with all of you.
Lesson # 1: Speak up
This is so important. There are going to be people who are wrong and will try to talk over you, and there are going to be situations where someone needs to step up and you’re the person for the job. I’ve learned to take advantage of those moments. I’ve learned to silence the voice in my head that tells me to be quiet. I’ve learned that I have a voice, and it needs to be heard.
Lesson # 2: Never be afraid to ask questions
I currently work for the University of Georgia’s Division of Marketing & Communications. I am a research writer, so I write press releases about the cool new studies published from faculty here at the school. The woman who trained me last year was awesome, and she told me “Sometimes the information can be confusing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something. It’s better to ask and get it right than to guess and get it completely wrong.” I apply this advice to all aspects of my life, even when I’m debating with someone. I like to say “This is what I have gathered. Is that correct?” I don’t feel stupid for doing it. In fact, I feel good because I am covering my own back and making sure I have the correct information before assuming or guessing.
Lesson # 3: Admit when you’re wrong and apologize when necessary
There have been times where I’ve made assumptions and completely went off on people. I don’t want to be that person, nor do I want to be the type of person who doesn’t see my own faults. I’ve learned to admit when I am wrong. This means sucking up my pride and saying “Hey, I assumed you were saying this instead of asking.” It sucks. It really does, but you know what? It’s absolutely necessary to maintain the sense of transparency and honesty that I carry myself with. I have to be willing to consider the possibility that I am the jerk in the situation, and that I jumped the gun. Taking it a step forward, I’ve also learned how to apologize when I’m wrong. It’s not easy to do. Honestly, it sucks. But it wouldn’t sit well with my spirit not to. There have been plenty of times over the past two years where I’ve had to say “Hey, I jumped the gun and I’m sorry. My bad.” Knowing when to do this makes you an awesome person.
Lesson # 4 Love yourself
During my academic career here, I met someone who completely changed the way I look at myself. From this person, I learned how to take a compliment without making fun of myself, love my body, and love who I am as a person. We no longer speak, but the lesson I learned from that person remains, and I no longer question my worth as a woman, as a reporter, and as a person capable of loving both myself and another human being in a healthy way.
Lesson # 5: Spend time alone
I’ve always considered myself to be an extrovert because I love group activities, spending time with my friends, and trying new things. Boy, was I wrong. After traveling, running around like a chicken with its head cut off to visit everyone at home, and sobbing my eyes out to my counselor, I realized I’m actually an introvert. I love people. They’re awesome and make me happy. However, I need alone time to recharge, otherwise I turn into the people in the Snicker’s commercials. Alone time is a must for me, even if it’s an hour or two. I’ve learned to build that time into my plans, and to say no when people attempt to intrude on my solo time.
Lesson # 6: Take a break when necessary
I tend to overwork myself to the point of exhaustion, irritability, and anxiety. My time here has taught me to listen to my body. When pushed too hard, my body will tell me what it needs, which is most often rest. When this happens, I put away my work and I either nap or escape by watching a TV show or movie, or doing something else I enjoy. I can’t accomplish my goals if my body and mind are worn out.
Lesson # 7: Actions speak louder than words
I’ve met some wonderful people over the past two years, one of whom meant a lot to me. I fell, really hard at that. It was hard to let go when I sensed things weren’t working out. In retrospect, I realize I fell in love with who I thought that person could be. I envisioned a life that, in reality, couldn’t come to fruition because I planned it with a person who doesn’t exist. I planned it with someone who had the same goals as me. Someone brave. Someone honorable. Someone who does the right thing. I envisioned a life with the person I wanted him to be, not who he actually was. This particular person said wonderful things, but his actions didn’t align. Going forward, I’ve made a promise to myself that I’ll really try to see people for who they are. I’ll base that on their actions, not what they tell me. I don’t want to suggest that I should think of everyone as liars. I’m saying I will see people for what they do. Their actions will speak for themselves.
Lesson # 8: Know when the universe is telling you to let go
Over the past year, I tried to make a relationship work that just wasn’t in the cards for me. There were so many signs that it wouldn’t work, yet I persisted. I accepted things that I normally wouldn’t. I brushed over major issues we had. I did a lot of things that I shouldn’t have. From this experience, I’ve learned that the universe tries to tell us things and we should not resist–not when it hurts us to go on. I should’ve ended it and focused on myself. Instead, I allowed myself to run back to what was hurting me. It’s a cliché, but some people are meant to be in our lives for a season. Trying to keep them around once that season ends just hurts everyone involved. I’ve learned to let go so that when the time comes, I will be available for the right person. I will be ready for the next steps I am destined to take.
Lesson # 9: Appreciate your family and friends
Coming to UGA, dealing with breakups, and the stress of school and my personal life have all been difficult to deal with. My family and friends have been there every step of the way. When I was at my worst, my mother sent me text messages every morning to remind me of how loved I am. She didn’t have to, but she did it because she cares. I knew she loved me before I left home, but this showed me that there’s no greater love than the one you get from your closest family and friends. They are our eyes when we can’t see, our sense when ours is lost, and our lifelines when we are drowning in our own sorrows. The love of my family and friends has saved my life. I am forever grateful for them.
Lesson # 10: I can do anything I put my mind to
I was so scared to come to UGA. I didn’t think I could ever leave home, live away from my family, or learn how to be like the reporters I looked up to at home. I honestly thought I wouldn’t get in to any schools because I didn’t have a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and that I’d be behind everyone else if I did get in. I applied anyway and ended up with four schools to choose from. Here I am, two years later and I’m graduating in two weeks. I’m proud of myself for breaking through the barriers that I inadvertently put in my own way. I silenced the voices telling me that I wasn’t good enough, and I did it. I couldn’t be prouder of everything I’ve done here, and I can’t wait to see what the future brings!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I hope this helps someone out there!
If you’d like to, please check out some of my graduation photos, and drop a comment below telling me something valuable you’ve learned recently!