ABOVE THE FRAY
Dear bright-eyed freshman,
What an exciting time it is for you to be alive! You’re living away from home, enjoying unprecedented amounts of freedom and are just beginning to experience the throes of adulthood. To that I say, “Welcome to Western.” Your life is about to change in some pretty noticeable ways.
Even though you’ve only been on the Hill for a week now, you probably have figured out that college involves trial and error. While waiting in Panda Express’s line to satisfy my orange chicken addiction, a bubbly freshman dutifully informed me of Panda and Chick-fil-a’s atrocious waiting times. I couldn’t help but chuckle and reply, “Oh, I know. I’ve been here for four years.”
Four long, hectic, painful, joyful and rewarding years later, I’ve learned a thing or two along the way. Not only have I mastered avoiding the calf-busting Hill by taking the Cravens Library elevator to the fourth floor (can I get an “Amen”?), but I’ve also learned some key life takeaways.
I’m going to impart advice for self-care – the kind of insight not typically shared in your ordinary M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan sessions.
1. Be genuine
College is a time of self-discovery and individual formation. There will be many epiphanies and revelations as to how you relate to yourself and the world, what you value and what you believe in. Don’t worry about how others perceive your own development. This is your journey and time to shine.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of following your dreams and cultivating your passions. Any major, club or professional activity you set out to do should be a reflection of who you genuinely are – not just a resume selling point. Continually ask yourself, “Is this what I want for my life?”
2. Be your own best friend
If you are lucky, you will make some of your best friends in college. Unlike high school, you aren’t forced to associate with anyone. Who you actively spend time with outside of class is completely your own choice. While growing in these friendships, learn to become a good listener, and make sure to be there for your friends.
But balance is important, and it’s impossible to hang out with your friends all the time. At some point, you come back to a quiet dorm room. In these moments, you must learn how to be alone, and this can be really hard.
Sometimes, friends can’t reply to texts or won’t be able to hang out with you. You learn that you have to be your own best friend. Pursue your interests and venture out to places by yourself. I’ll never forget the first time when I went to the movies alone, and it was a fun experience! That’s when you learn how to appreciate company even more.
3. Remove toxic people from your life
You most likely have toxic family members, old acquaintances and hometown friends that have been involved in your life. Disparaging comments and hurtful actions dampen your willingness to associate with these people.
You deserve supportive people in your life who love you for who you are and who want to build you up. Cut people out who aren’t making you better a person. Toxic people impact every facet of your life, even spilling over into your school work, so it’s important to not let that negativity bog you down.
There’s no one “right” way to experience college, but I hope these points will be helpful in shaping a fruitful experience.
Thrive, and become the best version of yourself – we’re all cheering and rooting for you from the sidelines. You’ve got this!