It’s hard to believe it’s been 4 years since I graduated college, especially when those 4 years in college felt like an eternity. Since then, a lot has happened for me in terms of my personal development, my mental stability, and also my personal relationships. The last 4 years after college have actually been the best years of my life thus far, and I attribute this primarily to the fact that there is no longer an unwritten guide book for how to make decisions as an adult. For about 22 years of my life, I knew what I had to do: go to school, make good grades, and find a job when I graduate. Now that I’m left to my own decisions, it’s rather freeing. I don’t have anyone’s expectations to meet but my own. I can’t help but wonder why this feeling couldn’t come earlier… and also, am I the only person who feels this way?

If I could go back in time, I would tell myself these 4 things:

1.  Focus on being the best at something you’re good at, not something that’s good for you. There were so many creative things I loved doing as a kid – graphic designing, writing poems, and making random art pieces. I always knew I was right-brained person, but was always convinced that I wouldn’t make it in the world unless I focused on building my left brain and getting  good job that paid the bills. Now that I look back, I realize that it’s a terrible way to look at life if you want to be the best at something. To do something great in life is not about following a methodology, but instead about creating your own.

2.  Invest time in the people you want in your future. This one sounds simple, but I think a lot of people struggle with it even now. What I mean by this is that you shouldn’t waste your energy on A) people who don’t really click that well with you but are convenient to have around or B) people who don’t care to put the same effort into your friendship as you’re willing to. You could be spending this energy on people who share the philosophies as you- who could help you build your next business, or accompany you on spontaneous trips around the world. You know, people you actually enjoy.

3.  Grades and GPA matter, but they’re not a game changer. This is the biggest thing I wish I could change about myself. Yes, having a good GPA does increase your odds of getting a better job (sometimes). No, your GPA does not define your worth. No, your GPA should not be the reason you’re attending classes. There are so many times I wish I could go back and sit in a lecture hall just to learn and appreciate someone else’s research. To enjoy the simple responsibility of being a sponge to knowledge and nothing else.

4.  Being in a relationship with yourself is the key to long-term happiness. Self-discovery comes in many forms, with many people, and throughout different periods of your life. For a long time, I depended on other people to affirm my self-worth, which was okay when I was around good company. However, when you are left alone with your self-doubts and no one to pick you back up, it’s a depressing place to be. Learning to love yourself or becoming a person you can love allows you to be your own crutch and also to apply the philosophy of not giving a f* about what other people think. It’s the most freeing place to be – away from all the f*’s.

I don’t regret not fully understanding these things in college. I guess I’m just interested to revisit those years under a different lens to see how I would turn out. I think life would be vastly different now, but I suppose that’s the point of growing as a person – being able to apply the lessons that you learn in the next period of your life. There aren’t second chances to redo history, but there are opportunities to redirect your future. So perhaps these aren’t things I wish I knew in college, but rather, things I’m glad I know now.