Hey friends! It’s finally that time of year – a time to reflect on the past semester and relay to you all what I’ve learned. I actually had some trouble writing this post for some reason. This semester was different than what I thought my third year would be. Given how much a pandemic factored into my experience, I’d say that I made the best of this semester.
So here goes, I started the semester on Zoom, and it FAILED me. I couldn’t get into my first class, but eventually I made it into my next one. This was just the first of all the Zoom idiosyncrasies I experienced this semester. The worst one was where the campus wide internet shut down.
But still it was FDOC 3!
What I Learned in my Third Year First Semester
Question of Intentionality
This semester was just full of a lot of questions I pondered. Either in my journal, taking walks, or out loud with friends. Before it all began, I really asked myself the question of how do you be intentional about things that in the movies are so happenstance. Friends, dates, other relationships. Movies and TV shows make relationships seem like they just are and they fall into place with no effort. But that’s not reality. Relationships take work from both parties. When do you know that you are putting in enough work? When have you exhausted all the energy you could put into that friendship and it’s time to let go? Just some thoughts.
My first year self
I spent a lot of time talking with friends and new people reflecting a lot on my first year self this semester. I’m not her anymore, but I’m not sure who I’ll be by the time graduation comes.
Moments of happiness can be found in any circumstance
I wonder how many people would say the coronavirus took a lot of moments of potential happiness away from them. But this semester I found plenty of moments of happiness. Watching two The Maine virtual concerts and laughing at Ted Lavender. Listening to Use Me by Pvris, No Good Left to Give by Movements, All Distortions Are Intentional by Neck Deep. Such good music! Declaring my major! Finishing The Good Place with my roommate from first year. The point being at the darkest of times, there is always the tiniest bit of light.
Made my own traditions this semester
I feel like traditions are only things families have or groups of friends or couples, but a human being, a single human being can create their own traditions. Every Wednesday night, I cooked intern dinner (I only missed one!). Every Friday, I took a walk off Grounds and just enjoyed VA’s weather. And then Friday night, I would order a salad from Chic-fil-A (the Cobb salad is sooo good~) and watch the Bachelorette. That was my gift to myself after the long week.
So many talks about dating this semester – it’s unbelievably a thread
A thread I didn’t foresee this semester, but a lot of friends talked about dating in conversations with me. I feel like if you’re not in a relationship by third year, then don’t pursue it. I feel like a breakup is inevitable, unless you and your partner have already discussed the future with one another – which I have seen happen. Is this a common part of the college experience? At some point, it stops being about making friends and starts being about romantic relationships? Anyway, I only went on one date this semester. It went well, but I think being single is a pretty good place to be.
Drop things that don’t contribute to your happiness and growth
This can be hard if these things are things you can’t say no to or just inevitable parts of life, but holy cow, letting go of things can be so fruitful. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I used to have an 8am class (which was my first mistake) and it was so bad. It just was not a class I could learn online. I wasn’t doing well. I didn’t like it. It wasn’t necessary for my major. And so I let it go. And I enjoyed the rest of the semester, sleeping in and enjoying my four other classes. If it isn’t making you happy or growing you, let it go!
So many dreams are not coming true and that’s okay
When thinking of my third year as a first year, I wanted so many things for myself. To study abroad. To be on the highest team of leadership in IV. To live in a Christian house. And absolutely none of those dreams are coming true. Study abroad next semester is cancelled. I applied for leadership and decided it didn’t go along with my vision for fourth year. And next year, I’m living in an apartment. These dreams are not coming true and that’s okay. Life doesn’t promise you all of your dreams coming true. It’s not what I pictured for myself but it’s what’s happening, and I think I’ll be okay.
Interruptions make the perfect moments
My many Cook-out runs, that time that I went to a bonfire, that random trip to Dunkin Donuts – they are the unplanned beauty of college. Let go of that time blocked Google Calendar and do something different from the norm. May you find joy there.
Journaling brings me back to the moments I so easily forget
This semester, I was struggling with journaling (and lots of other things). But mainly I was struggling in what my purpose for journaling was. Was it to write down all of the things that occurred? To process my thoughts? To track habits – good or bad. But I realized, after reading through old entries, that journaling brought me back to memories that slip by so easily. A moment that captured my attention that day. It didn’t have to be a big epiphany, but whatever stuck with me that day. The girl’s night where we ate cake and watched a 2000s movie, that time on the lawn where I hung out with a friend, a long chat that gave me a lot to reflect on.
I need to schedule downtime more often
At the beginning of the semester, I had more time to relax and didn’t feel so exhausted. This semester there was a break given to us by school. Every week was a full week of classes and assignments and club activities and seeing friends, and it was all so full. Yes, it was A LOT of Zoom and social distancing and more time being alone than ever before. But I didn’t really give myself that time to just rest. Which I feel like I say in every reflection of every semester ever. But I didn’t intentionally set that time aside. I would wake up and not want to do work so I didn’t or I procrastinate and watched Hulu instead. I just didn’t do a good job of scheduling downtime intentionally.
Lots of documenting my life this semester more than before
A new habit I picked up this semester was taking photos. I posted on IG stories SO OFTEN. And I just took random photos. Of what I ate, homework I was doing, a pretty outdoor spot. I just documented my life more often. Even here on the blog. I have so many posts documenting my day or weekend. I loved doing them!!
Perfect is the enemy of good
As I mentioned before, this semester wasn’t what I wanted. My dreams didn’t come true. Acknowledging that at first, really hurt. But chasing this perfect dream life for myself was hurting me more. It was the comparison of what I thought would be the best thing and what I had in front of me. Yes, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it was still good. This semester was still good in what it gave me. So often, perfect is the enemy of good. So much so that we can never recognize what good is anymore. Do your best to acknowledge the good in your life, even in this crazy year.
“I am both happy and sad at the same time, and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”
― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
I am grateful to have this semester at school with COVID going on. My dreams didn’t come true. But that’s okay.