What I’ve Learned This Year - Mike

By Mike Quach on September 13, 2013
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"Do what makes you happy.” How many of us have heard that said to us countless times before, especially in relation to choosing a major, college or profession?

I don’t want to completely knock that advice. It’s valid, but it can’t possibly cover the vast array of what you should be taking into consideration in your college career or in your life after high school.

When I heard that said to me, I always thought of it in terms of what I thought would make me happy at that given moment. While you should be happy in what you do with your life, you also have to look forward to the future.

Lifelong learning

As I grow into more and more of an adult, I find that the blissful stage where you have complete control over your life only lasts so long. After awhile, worrying about saving money or managing time, concerns about getting a job or strategic interactions with faculty or bosses balance everything out.

I think what’s important to realize is that life doesn’t necessarily get better on its own. You become a better you, and your life follows suit. In other words, you reap what you sow. By extension, if one crop does poorly and another does better, you plant the latter next season.

The moment you stop learning, you stop living. I’ve learned more this year in college about myself and my friends, the real world and living in general than I have about chemistry or calculus or any other discipline.

My experiences have taught me lessons that to some extent are pretty specific to my life, but in other ways, can be applied to anyone. I’ve learned that just because you don’t talk to old friends every day anymore, doesn’t change the years that you spent watching each other grow.

When I returned home for winter break, my old friendships picked back up effortlessly. It was like nothing had changed, except that so much had. My friends and I had whole new parts of ourselves that we were able to share with one another, and I could take joy in continuing to explore my friends as constantly changing people.

Dealing with change

No matter what, when you leave high school, you’ll want to be comfortable with a certain degree of change. In most people’s cases, this change will be quite significant.

It’s easy to be uncomfortable with the changes that are out of your control. It’s confusing to have so much control given to you, and to have so many changes outside your control happening simultaneously.

However, if this makes sense at all, it’s okay to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s not the end of the world if all of a sudden you realize you’re horrible at math, and at the same time that compulsory English class is starting to get really fun.

Even if you’ve always known that you wanted to be a math teacher, this isn’t such a bad thing. Accept what you can’t control.

College isn’t a test of how much you know and can spit back, but more often, a test of what you do when you’re confronted with something you aren’t comfortable dealing with. So when you feel your interests shift and things change, embrace it.

I’d like to offer a few practical bits of advice in parting. Be organized, be happy with who you are, do all that stuff you really don’t like but you know you should be doing, get off Facebook, and keep your mind and heart open.

As Dr. Seuss wrote, “Be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way!” 

Check out the following videos where our writers share their most
important piece of advice to their fellow students:

¥ Sharayah Le Leux: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9qvMYFOogA

¥ Ariel Benjamin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idSlfYUCq_s

¥ Jordan Sweigart: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CV_J9zjRVo

¥ Megan Lynch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUDIvjeadS0

About the Author

Mike Quach

Mike Quach

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