Once a VOXer, always a VOXer. Our series “Life After High School” features recent VOX ATL alums giving the teens coming up behind them the real deal on what life is like after graduation.
Life after high school is a transformation prompted by transition. A transformation that you can either embrace or avoid.
A transition filled with excitement, nerves and a (false) sense of freedom. From 1 am Cook Out runs to choosing your academic schedule, college is all about choices. Since arriving at Spelman, I’ve been very intentional in the choices I’ve made to ensure my personal and professional progression in that space. But with the responsibility of making these choices comes a sense of questioning.
Why am I doing this? Does this make me happy? Is this my purpose?
I remember at points during my first year in college that I questioned myself, and what I was capable of. From not having a core group of friends to navigating the dating scene with no prior experience (this can be a whole other article, trust), I was genuinely scared that my collegiate journey would be a lonely one. Especially since my academic and professional ambitions require me to travel a lot and tend to occupy my summers.
However, I began to love the process more than the desired result of the process. Instead of worrying about what I didn’t have in the moment, I began to focus on what I did have.
Family. Work Ethic. Passion.
Embracing that mentality allowed me to truly enjoy all of the little moments I experienced and attract the right things and people to my life. Slowly, but surely, people I now see as lifelong friends and mentors began to join my journey.
In short, everything you need will become reality when you trust the process and trust yourself.
With that being said, I have FIVE tips for anyone beginning this new journey.
- Be true to yourself—This is one of the beauties of college; it is a microcosm of the world, meaning you don’t have to change who you are to find someone to call a friend.
- Nobody knows your business unless you tell them—I can’t stress this point enough. Tread carefully with what you tell people about yourself or what you post on social media. You never know who knows who, or who’s listening and/or telling your business; so keep that in mind when meeting new people.
- Kindness never kills you—Keep in mind that you don’t know all of your peers’ stories, so when in doubt, leave them speechless with kindness. If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing; sometimes your silence speaks louder than your words.
- GO TO YOUR CLASSES—I never understood how people would want to skip classes that they are paying for?! Invest in your education and be present! Although some professors do not take attendance, believe me, they remember the students who are absent…
- It’s okay to make mistakes—Nobody expects you to have it right all the time, but the expectation is that you embrace constructive criticism and see your mistakes as lessons of wisdom.
College is what you make of it. This journey that you are embarking on will be full of smiles, laughter, tears and growth. I challenge you to make new memories, set and achieve goals, rely on your support system and remain undaunted by the fight! I wouldn’t trade the growth, experiences or lessons I’ve gained throughout this journey for anything.
Kayla Smith, 21, is a third-year International Studies major attending Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. She is a VOX alum, and is pursuing a career in diplomacy and international storytelling.