It’s been 10 years since I left my childhood home in Tennessee to go to college. At Wofford College, classes start every year on Labor Day, and (as far as I know) this year was no exception. The realization that it’s been a decade since I shipped off made me want to reflect and consider what I’ve learned since then.
With my sister at our hometown turkey trot during freshman year
Here are the ten biggest learnings I feel I’ve had over the last 10 years of growth:
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
I went into college thinking I had a lot of things figured out, while also feeling like I had an open mind. (Kind of a contradiction, right?) Along the way, I learned a lot of things that I couldn’t have guessed at beforehand. It’s a reminder to remember the limits of my own knowledge.
Don’t Be Afraid to Make a Change
Most (if not all) of the significant course corrections I’ve made have been for the better. In my junior year, I dropped a major and picked up a couple minors. After teaching for a year, I decided it wasn’t for me even though I didn’t have a plan for what was next. I decided to become a developer even though I had no previous experience or inclination. All of these (and more) have led to significant growth and learning. I’m glad that I’m perfectionistic enough to not settle for “good enough.”
I’ve had several long stretches of being prideful and feeling like I knew it all. I’m sure I wasn’t super fun to be around during those times, and still struggle with this to an extent. Looking back, these times are some of the things I would change the most.
You Need People
I’ve had this reminder a bunch since college, but it was something I first learned in school, mostly through campus ministry. The necessity of community has also been one of my biggest takeaways from the coronavirus as well. It’s an important lesson that I keep coming back to.
Discovering personal finance and the FIRE movement has been one of the most significant things to happen to me over the past decade. It’s trite to say, but I wish I’d have started investing sooner.
Don’t Pigeonhole Yourself
This is a continuation of point #2. I’ve resisted getting put in a box career-wise. For example, I never wanted to be “just a front-end developer.” I think this inclination for learning and staying agile has served me well.
There’s Good to Come
I spent a good bit of college thinking that it would be “the best 4 years of my life.” Thankfully, there’s been a lot of good past college as well, which for me has included getting married, moving three times, finding a career I love, etc. In America we buy into the myth of college (which I think might be changing), and I wish I’d shaken free from it a bit sooner.
Slow to Speak, Quick to Listen
I’m still working on this, but occasionally I’ll think back on some really dumb things I’ve said that could’ve been avoided with being faster to listen. Someone remind me of this one in a few months.
It Will Be Okay
Most of the big things I’ve worried about have either not been a big deal or haven’t happened at all. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get perspective in the moment, but I try to remind myself of how often my anxieties end up being insignificant.
Prioritize Mental Health
I started struggling with anxiety starting my sophomore year, but I didn’t have the tools or words to address it very well. I’ve learned how to manage it fairly well as the years have gone on, and it’s been an important step forward. If I could, I’d travel back to tell 19 year old me about all the tools and strategies for doing so.
Pete’s Picks ✅
Podcast: How I Built This is one of my favorite podcasts, and this week, the host, Guy Raz, was on the Tim Ferriss podcast. I loved listening to Guy talk about his experience and getting the chance to get a behind-the-scenes-look at HIBT.
Audiobook: I’ve been listening to Atomic Habits on audiobook this week and have enjoyed it. I’ve heard a lot about it on podcasts and have read summaries of it, but it’s still been good to get it from the source.
So far, the most impactful idea has been that the most powerful behavior change starts with identity. For example, if someone offers you a cigarette, someone who has already undergone identity change would say “I don’t smoke” instead of “I’m trying to quit.” Highly recommend for anyone that’s looking to learn more about how we form habits and get them to stick.