May 9th, 2019
By Katelyn Elrod and Kaitlynn Bloomfield
In this special blog post, you have the honor of digging into the brain of not one but two Katelyns (or Kaitlynns)! Kaitlyn Bloomfield, a MACU student who just finished her freshman year, and I, a seasoned MACU graduate of four days, share three things we learned last school year. Some lessons are similar; some are not. At least in my opinion, all of these lessons are beneficial in some way for anyone of any age and stage. Enjoy the Kaitlynn (or Katelyn) wisdom.
Not everybody needs to be your friend.
Coming into college, I was honestly terrified. I was so afraid that I wouldn’t find any friends. I was also afraid that I would find a handful of friends and that would be all. I was afraid no one would know me when I was so used to being the center of attention back home in my teeny tiny town. I wanted attention so badly. So, when I came to college, I tried to be everyone’s friend. I wanted everyone to know my name; I wanted everyone to want to be around me.
But after the first two months, I started to realize that everyone didn’t matter. I didn’t need everyone. After a rough couple of weeks, I started to understand that I didn’t like a lot of people no matter how much I tried to like them. I only wanted to like them so that they would like me. Not everybody needed to be my friend. I only needed a support system of a handful of people that would be real with me, because in college, there is no more time for games or drama. My group of close friends consists of about 10 people, and I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
Get off your phone!
I don’t know about you, but for me, high school was a time full of “who got the most likes on their Instagram pictures and how fast they got them.” The number of followers we had on social media was a constant conversation between my friends and me. It seemed like everything we did had to be documented, and every picture had to be a cute candid.
My first couple weeks of college were so much fun, just as I hoped! I was doing so many different activities, meeting so many new people, and exploring the city with new friends. It was about three weeks in that I realized I had taken, at most, five pictures so far. I expected to take so much more because before I got to college, I was convinced that the upperclassmen wouldn’t like me if my Instagram feed wasn’t cute enough. But not taking pictures felt incredible! I truly learned to live in the moment and get off my phone.
Social media was taking over my life because that’s all some people let you be: the person you are on social media. College was different because nobody cared about my tweets or my Instagram feed. We were all broke, exhausted, and just trying to have fun. Social media doesn’t mean anything. Friendships and memories mean everything.
Saying “yes” isn’t always the best idea.
Everyone was so careless the first few weeks of being at college—freshman specifically. We had all the money we saved up over the summer to help us live (or go to McDonald’s when the cafeteria had nasty food) throughout the year. People wanted to go to Insomnia at 1 a.m., play mini golf way late at night, sit on the patio and talk until 3 a.m., or do anything other than what they should have been doing. But it was fun at the time, so it didn’t matter. You say yes. You swipe your card over and over again, knowing in the back of your mind that you don’t need the overpriced cookies that late at night, knowing that you don’t even like to play mini golf.
It took a minute, but I learned that saying yes isn’t always the best idea, even if I want to say yes. It’s okay to stay in with your roomies and watch Netflix after you eat dinner together in the cafeteria because you don’t have to go out to have a good time. It’s okay to say no to mini golf and study for your test instead. It’s perfectly okay to say no because there will be other opportunities. Never abandon your responsibilities for an overpriced cookie that you’re going to feel bad about eating. It’s okay to say no because yes isn’t always the best answer.
Good grades are great, but learning is better.
In college, it’s easy to forget that education isn’t only about impressive grades and getting a degree—it’s also about becoming a better thinker, contributor to society, and all-around person. It’s true that college prepares you for the workforce and teaches invaluable hard skills, but we are in trouble if we think those are the only benefits of higher education.
Over the past few years, I have noticed my mind opening up to new ways of thinking and processing the world around me. Discussing ideas in class has taught me how to see from other points of view, find innovative methods to solve problems, and learn how to be wrong. In turn, I have become a more creative, compassionate, and open-minded person. Being an English major has definitely been an advantage in this department, as brawling about interpretations of literature is practically a degree requirement, but I believe students in every degree program can do this.
Acquiring any new piece of knowledge, especially alongside others, stretches your brain and may challenge what you thought you knew. This can sometimes involve growing pains, but it makes you a more insightful, capable individual. Yes, it is essential to be prepared for a career. But it is even more essential to be a person who puts good into the world through innovative and empathetic thinking.
Say it with me: Quality over quantity!
Boy, have I learned this the hard way over the past four years—mostly with friends, but sometimes with other things. Let’s cut to the chase: having three friends who genuinely understand and support you is more fulfilling than having twenty who like to hang out when it’s convenient. I’ve done both. At least for me, an ambivert through and through, the first one is the far better option.
In the past, I felt lame when I’d see pictures of huge groups of friends out hiking or bowling or doing whatever huge groups of friends do. My mind would immediately start fumbling for a reason I wasn’t part of a mega group like that: I wasn’t fun enough, cool enough, likeable enough. Then, I started to remember that I had been part of friend groups that made others jealous at times in my life. And you know what? It wasn’t always great. I often felt like I only connected with a few people, and it wasn’t unusual for me to feel isolated when everyone else was cutting up and enjoying themselves.
Now, I understand the value of my few close friends. They aren’t just there for me when it’s easy—they are there on my grumpy days, sad days, stressed days, and every day in between. They celebrate my successes and welcome me to celebrate theirs. On the days when I’m on the verge of losing hope in humanity (which is more often than I’d like to admit), they remind me that people are good.
The future is uncertain. Embrace it.
Senior year was pretty relentless in teaching me this nice little lesson, as I’m sure it is for most seniors. Every time I thought I had figured something out, I changed my mind, or unforeseeable events changed it for me. Whenever someone asked me my plans for the following year, I usually had to return to them with a “never mind” a few weeks or months later. At first it was kind of embarrassing. Then I got over it.
An unavoidable fact of life: things change all the time. People change, feelings change, goals change, movie ticket prices change, and plans especially change. All of these types of changes affect one another (maybe not movie ticket price changes, but who knows?), so it’s no surprise that life has a difficult time staying consistent. When I began figuring this out, coping with inconvenient surprises became much easier.
I’m still working on this, but when life hurls surprises at me these days, I shrug my shoulders and think, “let’s figure this out.” Every problem or curveball you face has a solution, even if it doesn’t look like you think it will look. And if you can’t find a solution, then you’re addressing the wrong problem. Life is too grand for changes of plan to jolt you for too long. Embrace change with open arms (or at least shrug your shoulders at it and keep on trucking).
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