I have 23 first cousins, and about half are older than I am, and every single one of them said the same thing before I entered the last and final year of college.
"Try as hard as you can to stay in... forever."
Shrugging this off as a joke, I maintained my mentality of wanting to get out as soon as possible. Yeah, I was one of those people that literally wanted to book it out of school so fast, you would have thought I had a broom, and was graduating from Hogwarts. I liked school, but I was so excited at the idea of a big girl salary, heels and corporate America.
What I have learned in my seven very long weeks right out of school, is that they weren't kidding... not even a little.
So kids... stay in as long as you can.
College was four years that I really believed "you can do whatever you want." After graduation and settling into a job, I have come to this hard realization that I can't just do what I want, now I have rent, student loans and what feels like a bazillion other things that I have to pay for and I first and foremost need stability.
As badly as I'd like to run away to Chile or Brazil and see the world you need cash mula baby, and most likely after school you won't have that. College is a fairly stable environment with thousands of opportunities literally knocking at your door. My one suggestion? Say yes, to as many as possible.
I'll state this right here: I have few regrets in life (I usually think it's a waste of time), but one was during college. No, it has nothing to do with a drunken stupor, surprisingly.
I didn't study abroad.
Every semester, I found a reason to convince myself not to go. Usually I muttered something about field hockey, or the communication wing, but all of these were just excuses. During my quarter-life crisis I have realized that I will probably never have an opportunity like that again in my life. It isn't easy (or cheap) to just pick up and move to Zimbabwe (and I'm pretty sure it's probably not safe, but I like the way it's spelled).
I was just going along with how everyone else was doing school. What I have realized in cubicle life is that people aren't cookie cutter. A shape that works for one person probably doesn't fit everyone else, which is unsettling. During college I wished that I would have embraced unsettling a little more.
College is a time to force yourself into the uncomfortable, die a little bit (and by little I mean one sprint short of sucking wind out of a paper bag) during a pre-season, humble yourself by sitting on the bench at a sport, or volunteering at a Service Center for international people. #thegrind is pattering its ugly feet, behind you and catching up, quickly.
When I say force yourself into the uncomfortable I mean live outside the box. There's a serious difference between #uncomfortable and #juststupidity. Just to clarify.
Life is boringly routine after school, wake up, go to work, (hopefully you brush your teeth and stuff beforehand), exercise, eat dinner, hang out a little, go to bed, and do it all over again for five freaking days straight.
That is why I think it's important to live outside the cookie cutter in school.
Find out what you like because your first few years out of school that is going to be your way of escaping reality (thank you for the tip Kenny Chesney).
Maybe you'll be one of those lucky people that settles into their first job, loves it and feels like you're making some sort of an impact, and gets to explore new environments all at the same time. If so, snaps for you.
Maybe I just have a serious case of post-college depression (which YES PARENTS actually exists) or maybe I have a quarter-life crisis that is boiling down to one part needing traveling adventures, two parts financial stability and one part doing some social good.