As I am sure you know, Tuesday marks the beginning the spring semester. After having attended this fine university for what feels like quite a while, I’d like to offer you some start-of-the-semester advice that I have gathered from my own experiences on campus:
Don’t sweat the petty things (and don’t pet the sweaty things).
Earlier this month, someone very dear to me had to remind me of this George Carlin quote when I began panicking over something that, in the grand scheme of the universe, will have virtually no effect on my life. If you put all your energy into worrying about what color socks you are wearing, you’ll be taking away energy that could be devoted to important things that really have an effect on life, the universe, and everything. Don’t forget to count your blessings, especially the smaller ones.
Study hard, but not too hard. Learning and developing your brain is an obviously important part of attending an educational institution, but do not make that 4.0 come at the cost of denying yourself the chance to change and grow as a person. College is not just about school. It is about becoming a functioning adult. It is about discovering who you are, what you like and growing as a person. It is about meeting new people who will be there for you for the rest of your life. Make your time as a student count for more than just being a student.
Do something good. In fact, do lots of somethings good, plural. Find a place that can use your help and become a returning volunteer. Why not start now? Martin Luther King Day is upon us, and you can join in on the MLK Day of Service (http://mlkday.gov/serve/index.php). The Slice office is more than willing to help hook you up with long-term or short-term volunteering opportunities. Doing something for others has countless rewards, including but not limited to warm fuzzy feelings and meeting resume boosting contacts.
Do something for you, too. Join a club, or an intramural sports team, or take up a hobby, or read that book you always said you wanted to read but simply haven’t gotten around to yet.
Do not get too caught up in being an adult. For what might be the first time in your life, you are paying hospital bills and writing rent checks. You are cooking for yourself and responsible for your own bedtime. Being an adult is not always fun, nor is it always easy. So every now and then, take some time to build a blanket fort, or to decorate sugar cookies, or to eat cereal while watching cartoons. You will be happier for it, I promise.
Take care of your body. Instead of running your body on nothing but caffeine, try and get at least 8 hours of sleep whenever you can. Try to eat healthy foods. Drink plenty of water. If it’s a nice day, go for a bike ride or a run. Go use the equipment or take a class at the Rec Center – chances are you have already paid for it with your student fees.
Use your words. Mankind has not spent thousands of years developing a complex and comprehensive system of language for you to not clearly express how you are feeling. Not like the way your friend, boyfriend or roommate does something? Talk to them about it, and try to work together to solve the problem head on instead of just expecting it to fix itself. And even though they seem scary to approach, most professors are really quite understanding and accommodating whenever something happens that interferes with school, so long as you send them an email or talk to them after class about it.
Figure out what you think is right, truthful and good. And then stand up for that. If you don’t, then how can you expect other people to?
I cannot promise that everything in your life will be perfect. Maybe you will get sick. Maybe you will have a break up. Maybe a loved one will pass away. I hope your life is full of happiness but sometimes it just does not work that way. But if you follow my advice, then just maybe, it will be easier to navigate the harder curveballs life throws your way.
Good luck and best wishes.