Sometimes, life seems like you’re at the end of a long race – you’ve been performing more or less consistently so far, and now there’s that last stretch. You can see the finish line. You can practically feel the finish line, but no matter how fast you seem to be running, you can’t seem to get there. It’s like trying to write than important email on the last 2% of your smartphone’s battery. Or, if you’re in my situation, it’s like trying to graduate college.
Here I am in my 8th semester, and it’s as I’m in a movie theater watching a play-by-play of every decision I’ve made over the last four years. Remember that time you backed down from an opportunity? Remember that time you bungled up something that could have been great for you? That time you spoke harsh words when perhaps being kind would have been the right thing to do? Well, if you’ve ever been a college senior, I’m sure you have. With graduation just t-30 seconds away, the pressure of applying to jobs or grad school mounting with every passing day, and the rush of recommendation letters, constant self-assessment and bingeing on comfort foods, a college senior’s life is like a mash-up of Survivor and Girls.
Well this is a survival guide, written by yours truly, based on experience, my oh-so-profound 21-year-old wisdom, and some old fashioned advice from my mum.
Start spending time with the right people.
College is 4 years. That’s a lot of time. It’s a lot of “Crap, this assignment is due tomorrow!” and “Can you please, PLEASE run down to the store to get this printed?” and “Anyone wanna grab some food tonight?” and that’s without all the social media interaction. It’s four years of making connections, whether those grow into deep bonds of friendship, or that strange phenomena known as the “frenemy”. In all that time, you’re bound to have a few people around you that just inevitably take away from the quality of life you could be living. Whether it’s the girl who is always around with a sweet smile when she needs something (and then gone the second she gets it), or that guy who always wants to copy your assignment, or anyone else for that matter – it’s time to make some cuts.
Streamline your life so that the people you have around you are those that you truly cherish, and who love, appreciate and support you. This does not mean that they’ve never let you down in the past, and this does not mean that you guys have “omg never had a fight, like ever”. What this does mean is that the people you surround yourself with are positive – they want good things for you and they want good things for themselves. The phrase “a man is known by the company he keeps” is so well-known for a reason. Think about what qualities you want to develop in yourself, and who can help you grow in that direction. If you’re surrounded by hard-working, goal-oriented almost-adults, chances are you’ll be able to focus more clearly on your goals as well.
It’s important here to remember that moderation is essential. The point of this post is not to tell you to ditch your friends ASAP because they don’t have the same outlook on life as you do. If you’re an aspiring journalist and you’re friends with a future physician, a painter, a professional sports player, that’s even better! Diversity is important. What’s the essential common denominator should be is the will to develop and grow, and to explore exciting new avenues in life.
Sometimes, a friendship is vital because even though you have different goals and plans for the future, you’re both on the same level when it comes to supporting each other and giving each other honest feedback. Whether it’s “Yes, you look bad in that skirt.” or “You probably didn’t get the internship because you were out partying instead of preparing for your interview.” having someone around you who will be honest with you is key.
This is something I’ve been learning in the last few weeks. I’ve spent time with people who excite me to be better, to try harder, and to share my dreams – people I admire because of their drive, their skill, or even just their patience and kindness. I’ve cut down on wasted time here and there, and focused on my work and myself, and been able to focus on quality time with my friends, rather than quantity, and it has done me a world of good. At the end of the day, the strong meaningful friendships you build will be worth so much more than any popularity contest ever was.