Four years provide life lessons to carry into real world

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    Fifteen days – that’s how long I have left at TCU as I sit here pondering how to summarize my college experience in 500 words. Do I talk about how I was scared to death of my screaming Frog Camp facilitators when I first got to campus? Or how awkward and nervous I was at my first formal? Or how I wasn’t sure if I should say “hell” in our “Give ’em hell, TCU!” chant at football games?

    Though these have all been a part of my TCU experience, I want to share three lessons I’ve learned from college. Now 21 years old and fully aware that I’m about to be at the bottom of the totem pole once again as I enter the “real world,” here’s what I know, now that I know I know nothing.

    Don’t talk about people.

    This probably sounds like a third grade feel-good-about-yourself lesson, but how many people actually put it into practice? Words hurt, yet people love to fill their time discussing the latest happenings in other people’s lives. College seems to be a breeding ground for gossip. As my 26-year-old sister likes to tell me, “Maddison, seriously, your life is like a reality TV show.”

    I’ve done the talking, and I’ve had the talking done about me, and neither one feels good. Let’s be the people who are out there making a difference, serving others and living our lives in such a way that we don’t have time to concern ourselves with JuicyCampus.

    Say thank you.

    Appreciate the moment, the journey and the people who have helped you along the journey. Parents, professors, siblings and friends invest so much in each of us every day. Never forget who has helped shape who you are, and write them a thank-you note or make a point to say thank you the next time you see them. It’s incredible how much it means to people when their acts of kindness are noted.

    Keep it real.

    Everybody knows college can be stressful. The balance of school, work, friends and figuring out what you’re going to do with your life can feel overwhelming. Sometimes we lose track of what really matters.

    We live in an inward-looking, self-absorbed world, forgetting the people around us and simply trying to survive. But what I’ve learned, both through loving and through loss, is that people matter. This life is about loving and serving others, and that is what will make a lasting impact. Keep life in perspective, slow down, put down your iPhone and tell the people you love (not their phones) that you do.

    I’m headed to Nashville next year to teach high school Spanish as part of the Teach for America program. I’m a little nervous, but thankful for the past four years of community, learning and involvement that has undoubtedly prepared me for my next step. I’ll be going from being taught to teaching, but I know that I’m ready for it.

    Thank you to the professors who have spent hours with me reviewing tests, papers and talking me through concepts.

    Thank you to friends who have been with me in laughter, tears and everything in between, and thank you to my TCU family. I’ll forever carry you in my heart, and any impact that I make will largely be attributed to the impact that has been made on me these past four years.

    Maddison Grigsby is a senior international finance major from Omaha, Neb.