As Long As It Doesn't Kill You: What I Learned the Hard WayKat Boots
As prosaic and cliched as a "Here, freshmen, sage advice from upperclassman" article is, I hope that I could share a little bit of what I learned the hard way through my first two years at college.
So, I will tell you, frankly, what you need to keep in mind coming into college. Of course, we're all different, and of course, what I say may not work for you. But some parts of my college experience would have been significantly better/easier had I just considered the following:
- It will not go as planned. Don't expect it to. Between random roommate assignments, unpredictable professors, chaotic acts of catastrophe--nothing can be strictly routine. If everything doesn't turn out exactly as you expected, it will be alright. Don't panic. Instead, take it as a lesson for how to deal. Roll with the punches, come out on top.
- Don't fear rejection or failure. Remember, you'll never get a "Yes" if you don't ask. Join clubs and get involved. I made the mistake of delaying involvement in extracurriculars, thinking they'd weigh me down and hurt my GPA. The truth is, all the extra time made me lazy, and my GPA was never better as soon as I involved myself in clubs, sports, etc. Work hard, play hard.
- Know your limits. This can be read many ways, but put simply, invincibility is overrated and unattainable, so why bother? For me, a $3000 emergency room bill and various other exhausting endeavors taught me that, from here on out, the one to take care of you is you. Take care of yourself, and know what you can and cannot do.
- Get out there. Discover new things, some you'll adapt to your life, others you'll simply try once and discard. Even if you try it and hate it (the opera, say), it'll be a fun memory. It's all about the experience, baby.
- Show some humility, and maybe even a touch of kindness. In all things, moderation. Confidence is a great asset, and I would hope you come in thinking that you're great and wonderful and special. But the people most rewarded are those who recognize the strengths of those around them and lift them up.
- You have a right to be happy. If your major makes you miserable, if the walls are closing in, if you feel alone, break free. No, you're not going to love every minute of the work you have to do. But college [should be] an exciting, stressful, wonderful, busy time where you grow closer to who you are. This is the time to find what you love and hate. Be selfish with your time--don't waste it, ever.