You Shouldn’t Walk Off Shin Splints & 37 Other Things I’ve Learned Sophomore Year of College

photo by author

It seems to be a universal principle that the older you become, the faster time seems to pass. The days drag on into eternity. The weeks are several months long. The months are only worth a couple of days and the years pass in mere hours. The ancient ones that sit in the back pew on Sundays frequently comment on how quickly things change, people grow up, and the pace of life seems so frantic all of the time.

I have found that college hurls you further into this time-warp. They promise you that in a mere four years you will transition from a freshman– an infant adult, fresh out of the womb of high school, desperate for love, and ignorant in so many ways– to a Full-Fledged Adult–qualified to get a job, live on their own, and get married. At the beginning of the process, you cross your arms and say, “It’s impossible. It’s going to feel like forever, but I won’t be able to change that much in that amount of time.”

Now I find myself near the end of sophomore year–halfway there, living on a prayer, and feeling like skinny Steve Rogers being injected with the super-soldier serum. The beginning and the end of college feel real. Who knows if I’ll come out hotter, but I’ll definitely feel different. Taller maybe?

Whatever the case, coming out of a chaotic year of college in this “unprecedented time” has resulted in many new-found pieces of wisdom. For the sake of remembering them beyond this semester and maybe for the benefit of an audience, I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned this year–these range from specific things I’ve learned about myself and to some that I probably ripped off of inspirational wall-art from Target, they are so general and cheesy.

Because the nature of this list is by no means comprehensive and mostly stream of conscious, I have arbitrarily decided to list 38 things.

38 Things I’ve Learned Sophomore Year of College

  1. When you are living on your own, your parents aren’t there to stop you from impulse buys or randomly stopping at Cracker Barrel. For this reason, a budget is a good idea.
  2. It’s better to be honest about not being a night person, then to go the entire year exhausted from consistently staying up until 2am, lying to yourself and your friends.
  3. Don’t feel bad about awkward conversations with people–sometimes it’s just a necessary stage in making friends.
  4. “No ideas but in things” (William Carlos Williams)
  5. Walking around campus in the drizzling rain while listening to Cyndi Lauper when you’re depressed is a vibe. I highly recommend.
  6. Don’t try to walk off shin splints. Believe it or not, it’s actually counterproductive.
  7. Stop apologizing out of fear for the things that you write. Learn to say, “This is my story, I hope you enjoy it,” and let it stand on its own.
  8. You can survive an entire day (sitting through four hours worth of back to back classes and performing in the opening night of your play) without eating anything other than a chocolate chip cookie, but I don’t recommend it.
  9. It’s okay to ask for attention.
  10. Sometimes what your soul needs is a walk down to the river with only the essentials: a camera, a bottle of Mountain Dew, and a book of Mary Oliver poetry.
  11. Time management is a skill that I still need to master.
  12. Caffeine does not hydrate you, no matter how much you lie to yourself by saying that it has water in it.
  13. Writing about specific experiences and using particular language can express universal truths better than writing broad generalizations with “self-insert” qualities.
  14. If I were a superhero, I would be Squirrel Girl.
  15. No matter how much I love being alone, being with others in-person is one of the most wonderful things in the world.
  16. A game of Dutch Blitz can escalate to unreasonable levels of violence where people who never utter expletives are suddenly using them all.
  17. Put notes and quotes and drawings all over your bedroom wall. Collect all of the little things you get from people, so on the days you don’t want to exist, you have voices that tell you that your existence still matters.
  18. You don’t need depth-perception for revenge.
  19. Do more things that scare you–cut your hair short, tell people how much you love them, write a novel.
  20. There are too many Jeep Renegades in the world. Notice them, count them, cuss them out.
  21. Let yourself make messes and take up space. Don’t tiptoe through life like it’s a place you’re meant to leave untouched.
  22. After a year in masks, there is something magical about the sense of smell.
  23. I can be petty and spiteful, and I need to stop taking enjoyment from it.
  24. Moxie is quite possibly the best pop on earth. No, I’ll never stoop to call it “soda.”
  25. Sea shanties could resuscitate my dead body.
  26. Surround yourself with treasures– ancient nails, shards of glass, and cicada shells. Decorate your workspace with things that make you happy.
  27. Taylor Swift is a universal language.
  28. Be upfront with people. Challenge yourself to communicate well out of respect for them (and your own feelings, for that matter.)
  29. The things that you love when you were 12 never quite go away, I guarantee they’re still buried deep in your psyche (for me, it’s Captain America and the MCU).
  30. Resting is just as important as working.
  31. Just because you make wishes at 11:11 and they keep coincidentally showing up in your life does not mean that it’s meant to be.
  32. I get homesick approximately once every 3 weeks.
  33. Humans need meaningful rituals as much as they need unpredictable adventures.
  34. If you ever need to feel better about your skills as a writer, watch Riverdale.
  35. Do things you don’t like to do–work on being consistent, eat broccoli, talk to someone you don’t want to. They’re important and the more you do them, the less you’ll hate them (hopefully).
  36. There are people that will come into your life and surprise you by how much they will end up meaning to you.
  37. Capture irrational thoughts before your rational brain murders them. If the first thing you think when you wake up on a sunny morning is “The trees are smiling today,” let that beautifully wild thought live. Immortalize it on paper before you forget it and before you never think it again because your next thought is “trees can’t smile.” Turn it into poetry.
  38. Pursue the things you feel called to pursue, even if others tell you that you may never get a job. Never tell me the odds. If I am called to be a storyteller and be poor, I’ll do it to the best of my ability and call it success.

A sleep deprived college student who occasionally considers herself a writer. Here's a website: