The Big Picture
Tanvi Varma '19
It is hard to believe that I am almost halfway through my sophomore year. It seems like it was just yesterday when I was tearfully saying goodbye to my friends and family. As I embarked on this new and somewhat scary chapter in my life, one of my biggest fears was that I would not have many friends. While I enjoy people and want to get to know them, I am a very shy person by nature. It is difficult for me to go out of my comfort zone to do so. Instead, I gravitate towards staying quiet and keeping to myself. That being said, I have made some amazing friends here at Oxy and have learned some valuable lessons.
1. Your Friend Group Will Change Multiple Times
Naturally, when college started, I wanted to break out of my comfort zone. I put immense effort into striking up conversations with individuals because I did not want to be the quiet person. I wanted to be friends with a lot of people. I realized that while everyone was extremely friendly in the initial weeks of school, true friendships would only solidify later on (once the initial excitement wore off). Friend groups would not stay the same - they would keep changing based on where you lived and what classes you took. Even when you think that your friend group will not change, it most definitely will.
2. It is acceptable to fall down. It is about how we get up and push ourselves to be even better.
Another important thing I learned is to be okay with falling down. The transition to college is difficult emotionally, but also academically. College is a different ball game - some classes do not have daily assignments. Therefore, the grade is based on participation, papers and exams (weighting is much more). Professors’ expectations are very different from that of professors in high school - they may not necessarily tell students what they expect. It takes failing an assignment/exam or falling down to understand the expectations. I remember moments in my first semester when I was on the verge of giving up because I thought my best was not good enough. The paper that I would have gotten an A on in high school, would receive a B- or C in college. The important thing to remember is to not get discouraged if you do not end up with straight A’s in your first semester of college the way you did in high school. College is supposed to be challenging. Falling down forces you to get up and push yourself further to be even better.
3. Do not procrastinate.
It sounds cliche, but procrastination will cause unnecessary stress. In college, some classes do not have daily assignments. Instead, there are readings that are expected to be done by a certain date. If you do not have it done, there is no physical consequence except for the inability to participate in class discussion and more reading in preparation for the exam. Do not let yourself get into a pattern of pushing the reading off until the night before the exam because it will land you in trouble. Also, do not procrastinate on writing essays just because you have three weeks to do so. It may have worked in high school, but it will cause you pain in college. Other assignments, activities or commitments will come up and before you know it, it will be the night before the essay is due, and you will be forced to pull an all-nighter to write it. It may not be your best work, and your procrastination will be the only one to blame.
4. Try new experiences but do not overdo it.
After an interesting first semester because of social and academic reasons, I wanted my second semester to be completely different. I started going out on a rather frequent basis and joined a sorority, through which I met some of my best friends. While second semester was a platform of new experiences, the reality is that I significantly overdid it because I always wanted more. I was so scared that the whole college experience was slipping away, that I took whatever action possible to make sure that did not happen. I have learned that as fun as it is to do everything, it is only fun if you can completely enjoy it. And when you are balancing what feels like a million things, fun can be hard. I now know it's better to do a few things that I can give 100% of myself to, than ten things I can barely handle. College is about learning how to balance and juggle at the same time all while staying sane and happy.
5. Be honest with yourself.
Do not let what others think stop you from being who you are. It is not high school, and as much as we would like to think that others care about what we do, they do not. Many of the lessons that I learned from my first-year boiled down to being honest with myself. If I had taken moments to reflect on what I want/who I am, I would not have made a majority of the decisions that I ended up making. It was only when I took a step back from everything that I realized major changes needed to be made. It took a while to understand what went wrong. I had many enjoyable experiences, and ones that could have been enjoyable if I had not overdone it/over-processed the events. Sometimes, you just need to take a step back to realize what is happening around you. The comforting aspect is learning from past experiences and mistakes and rectifying them to enjoy the next three years.