Coming Into Your Own At College

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Just like entering middle school or high school, college is a world of new experiences that can be daunting and intimidating. That is until you realize that college is a chance to be yourself, find yourself, or reinvent yourself. It's your first step into adulthood - being on your own, making your own decisions, being responsible for yourself. Taking control of your own life is actually quite liberating and empowering. And hey, if you're still feeling a little awkward and unsure, consider this, so are all your fellow classmates.

College is a fresh slate. Rather than the former classmates you grew up with from when you were all practically still in diapers, you'll be surrounded by new faces. And you're just as much a new face to them. So if you felt that you never really quite fit into the narrow-minded cliques that were so popular in high school, this is your chance to be yourself from the start. Self-confidence will make you attractive to others.

Also, you are more likely to run in circles of like-minded people based simply on your curriculum. You'll have liberal arts classes, but you'll also have classes focusing more directly on your major. This intensive study will find you surrounded by students with the same interests as you-a comforting replacement for friends and family you left behind.

This support network is a great start in feeling good about yourself, but you also have to be realistic with yourself. Your life is changing, college is a foreign experience, and expectations are different. Don't give up if you don't fall into the new routines right away, because before long, as you grasp all the facets of college life, it will become just that - a routine. Remember graduating grammar school and suddenly having nine teachers instead of one, a locker you had three minutes to get to in between classes, and stacks of books and homework for all different subjects? It was initially a challenge, but before long, you didn't think twice about it, and established a plan for making it work best for you.

You also have to consider your own needs first and set realistic goals for yourself. There's a lot of fun that comes along with college, but being too distracted by frat or sorority parties and other socializing can lead you to neglect what it is you really want out of an education. Put your personal college achievements first, and use any extra time for fun instead of the other way around. And in pursuing your goals, don't aim for perfection in everything. Know what is realistic for you and you'll feel that much more satisfied when you reach that potential - and perhaps go beyond it. You're not in a competition to out-Grade Point Average any of your classmates. Your objective is to learn and walk away a well-rounded individual.

Most importantly, be positive with your own personal feedback, and put it way ahead of opinions or advice from others. Trust your own judgments, don't doubt yourself, and face and solve problems on your own. Get involved in projects in which you feel you will be a success. Successful results add to your confidence and skill set, and help you take on bigger challenges that stretch your abilities as you continue in your college career...and beyond.