"If they give you ruled paper, write the other way." -Juan Ramon Jiminez

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Five Things I Learned at College

The Five Things I Learned at College (And Hope I Remember Moving Forward)

5. You Shape and are Shaped by those around you... by more than you think

My first days at college were spent as part of some now defunct leadership program. I'm of the strict philosophy that leadership can't be taught, that we're born with it or not, and can only enhance or detract from our natural ability to a small degree. I gave it a shot anyway, and I was very interested to see what happened with a bunch of so-called leaders with no established cliques were all mixed together with people only a few years older than them on average. The result? Friendships that formed in the first week of college virtually defined the destinies of the younger student: it was easy to tell the future frat boys, student government kids, and so on. And it was easy to watch the perceptions of the older students change as they became more confident of their status as a leader and changed their actions accordingly.

4. You Don't Need to Know What You Want to Be, but you can't sit around trying to figure it out

I dabbled in a lot of things at college. I got involved heavily in student activities, the college TV station, the film club, but that doesn't say anything about other things I nearly got involved in. While I'm still not exactly sure what I want to "be", I had a lot of fun meeting new people, learning new skills and learning about myself. I realized the best way to find out what I wanted to do was process of elimination - try it for a while and if you don't like it, move on. And so often I'd see people afraid to get involved and try something out (so often because they were shy) or wait for people to reach out for them. A little initiative goes a long way. I can only hope moving forward I continue this, and don't get too afraid to let go of what's comfortable when the time comes to try something new.

3. There's Always Time to Sleep... Later

Underfed, tired, overworked, and probably a little too stressed is how I spent my college (so-called) career. If I could do it again I would probably relax a little bit more, but I felt like I needed to make up time after high school and see what I really could achieve if I set excuses aside. And if you graduate when the economy is in the tank, you'll have plenty of time to relax looking for jobs when it's all over. Besides, if you're not exhausted when you get home, what's the point of vacation?

2. Enjoy the Unconventional

My favorite college memories are the very strange things I can allude to, whether it be the time I stumped Danny Glover in front of 1,500 people (at a student activities convention), got a long-winded voicemail from Dennis Haskns (Mr. Belding), wandered around an academic building without my shoes on only to see a few friends at 3 AM on a Saturday, or found ways on top of buildings with one of my best friends... enough said. The only way to make those memories are to take risks. Risks are awesome. Sometimes they even result in an upgrade to senior housing your second semester.

1. All Good Things Must Come to an End

As much as it pains me that September is rolling around and I'm not going back, I understand that like everything, college must end. I've long been of the belief that if you did everything right, you'd be ready to graduate at the end of four years, and while my heart may get a little heavy thinking about all the weekend TV shoots I'm missing and making 16mm films on weekend mornings in October, I believe that life can only be lived moving forward... so always be moving forward and carry the memories with you as you move onto your new adventures. After all, there's still life after college... right?


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