SwimSwam welcomes reader submissions about all topics aquatic, and if it’s well-written and well-thought, we might just post it under our “Shouts from the Stands” series. We don’t necessarily endorse the content of the Shouts from the Stands posts, and the opinions remain those of their authors. If you have thoughts to share, please send [email protected]
This “Shouts from the Stands” submission comes from Kristen Toth:
You’re excited. You’re nervous. You’re anxious. You’re happy. You’re sad. There’s very few times in your life that you’re going to feel all of the conflicting emotions all at the same time again. Honestly, it’s perfectly okay if you’re not quite sure what you feel. Being a student-athlete is no easy feat, but going in prepared can help with the transition.
- Be open minded
You’re going to meet a lot of new people on your team and in classes with a lot of different opinions and views. They’re going to be from all over the country and world with different perspectives on life. That’s good! Be sure to never close your mind to a new idea before you even give it a chance.
- Never close your eyes without setting an alarm
You’re going to close your eyes, say you’ll open them in five minutes, and end up sleeping for an hour and missing a practice or class (or both!). Naps will become a lifestyle in college. But never lay down before you set an alarm or you may sleep through the next few days. The last thing you want is to set off on the wrong foot with your professors or coach.
- Focus on Yourself.
You’re inevitably going to change in college. Focus on finding how you can change yourself to become a better, more self-less person and teammate. Figure out who you are as an individual, a student, and an athlete. Find out what makes you tick. College is not only an educational journey, but a self-discovery journey as well.
- Sleep as much as you can the week before Fall Semester starts.
Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
- Pet as many dogs as you can before you leave for school.
Again, you’ll thank me later.
- Don’t be afraid to leave people from the past…in the past.
Some of your high school friends and teammates will be a part of your life for years to come, but some of the people from your “pre-college life” need to stay just there….in your pre-college life. This is the perfect time to clean toxic people out of your life so that you can be the healthiest and happiest version of yourself.
- Maintain your relationships with your teammates from back home.
Call them. Text them. Don’t let them think you forgot about them. While it’s good to clean your life of the toxic people from your past, it’s also good to maintain your friendships with friends from high school. They have known you for a long time, and stuck by you in your awkward younger years.
- Make To-Do Lists your new best friend.
Write them. Color-code them. You may never actually follow them, but they will help you keep track of what you have to do (and make you feel like things are at least partly under your control).
- Never do anything “just because everyone else is doing it.”
On your journey of figuring out who you are, you figure out what you like and want to do. Some people will like and want to do things you won’t want to. That’s okay. It’s going to happen. Then don’t do it. You do you and let them do them.
- Call your parents every once in a while.
They’ll appreciate and love hearing your voice. Ask their advice, and tell them of your accomplishments. Your parents will always be your biggest supporters.
- Step out of your comfort zone.
Hesitant to go to that event because you won’t know anyone? Go anyway. Nervous about attempting the faster interval at practice? Do it anyway. College is all about meeting new people and self-discovery. Make yourself a little uncomfortable and step out of the bubble. Life is no fun if you stay in your comfort zone the whole time.
- Never let just one thing define you.
Whether it’s a sport. A boyfriend. A girlfriend. A subject. Don’t let any one thing define you. Don’t let the backbone of who you are ever be just one thing. What makes you who you are should be many different things all coming together uniquely.
- Give 110% in everything you do.
Never give yourself an excuse to say that you could’ve done better. It would be no fun to look back on your life if it is only full of “what if’s”. Study for that exam. Push yourself harder than you thought you could at practice. Crush that meal at dinner time. Always give 110% in what you do, so you will always be able to say that you did your very best. No excuses.
- It’s okay to be part of multiple social groups.
In high school it’s common for people to break up into their cliques by senior year. In college, you’re going to have friends from all different places. Your team, people in your classes, people in your clubs, workout buddies, church buddies, etc….
- Build a relationship with your coaches and professors.
They can be some of your best supporters, and will be some of the greatest people to have your inner circle. Build a relationship with them. Go talk to them at office hours or after practice. Ask them questions. Ask for advice. Show that you care, and they will appreciate it.
- Know that you will fail at something, but it’s about how you handle it.
Maybe it’s an exam, maybe it’s an event at a meet, maybe it’s at practice one day, maybe you spill your fresh coffee. Just know that something, at some point in your college career, is going to go wrong. But who you are will not be defined by the failure, but how you overcome it.
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