I remember in my high school graduation my teachers spoke about how we were all going to have “bright futures” when we entered university. Having been in college for two years now, I understand that being a college level student is a very unique opportunity. I’ve never heard of another place where you can experience sleep deprivation for more than three days and still be alive. I recently surprised myself when I realized I had been working on essays and papers for three days with only three hours of sleep (don’t try this at home by the way). Needless to say, I am glad I am here, alive and kicking as I write about it.
I believe my teachers at the time used that whole “bright future” argument as a ploy to have us strictly consider entering university. I’m glad they did because now I have a chance to explore my interests and I enjoy what I am doing. They were right to a certain extent and I thank them. However, I do know they didn’t really warn me about all the struggle that comes along with pursuing this famous “bright future” they sold us so well. Maybe they did, I don’t know! Perhaps I chose not to believe them at the time when they said professors wouldn’t accept late work, or change test dates because I didn’t feel prepared to take an exam. That reality seemed too harsh, too cruel, and inconceivable as a 17-year-old girl with the prospect of going to this new place where test dates can’t wait until I’m ready, looming over my shoulder.
University life is only fruitful when you have a good set of priorities to work with. Surely there are plenty of wonderful things that change your life as you begin to settle into this 4- year battlefield. People are right when they say that the friendships that we create here are the type of bonds that last a lifetime. I’m glad I have found such a good group of people to rely on, because otherwise I wouldn’t want to be here as much as I do. The going out and hanging out until unreasonable hours of the night because my parents aren’t here to supervise me part is also pretty fantastic. Now that I’ve buttered you up like that, allow me to say that being a student is a huge sacrifice so, if you are going to follow a particular academic path, be sure you are doing it for yourself and for all the right reasons. Remember that being proud of what you do is the only way to prosper.
There is an obscene amount of studying that goes on in college. Don’t be surprised when you sit down in a cubicle at the library at 4:00 in the afternoon and come out midnight, all the while knowing that you still have work to do when you get back to your dorm. Don’t be alarmed when you are the idiot that stayed behind doing Math while all your friends are out in town, partying their life away. That’s the reality. If you are willing to do that several times a week, be sure you are doing it because you are genuinely interested in your major, and not because your parents believe this is your destiny. There are going to be days when you will forget why you opted to submit yourself to this amount of work, to this often-solitary studying process, to this I don’t understand what my professor is saying half the time life, to this never-ending stress builder. That’s ok because you will surpass this with all your limbs intact (although I can’t promise you won’t gain weight). But, if you are putting yourself through this without being able to identify the purpose of your efforts, then you know that its time to make a change.
Your whole perspective on grades and success will evolve in college. Sometimes you will get a C and still feel like the sharpest tool in the whole damn hardware store. There will be people around you that will boast about how well they are doing, but you needn’t be preoccupied of those nincompoops because they are the ones who need to brag about their successes to make themselves feel better, and that’s just sad! I believe you can fail a thousand times and still learn a whole lot. Twenty years down the line, nobody will care if you flunked Anthropology or if you did pretty well on that test that asked you with which hand Michelangelo sculpted “The David’s” left toe. Take it upon yourself to learn everything that you are passionate about, any little thing you can use to survive later on in life. Don’t take any topic for granted. Gather some lessons and information on how to be a good human being and a capable contributor of this ever-changing world.
As for this whole “bright future” thing my teachers spoke about… Look, nobody can determine what constitutes a bright future exactly. There is no person that can be bold enough to say that there are specific elements that make up a life worth living once you are done with college (if you find a person like that though, be sure to wish them well and ignore everything they are saying). That is something that we decide for ourselves as we go out and learn about the things we want and don’t want. I can tell you that success is a pretty picture with a painful history behind it. You need to fail, get hurt, become disappointed with everything, in order to appreciate the positive things that come as a result of that hardship. Being a student is difficult because the work that we do and the uncertainty that we endure is unlike anything I have ever known . But one thing is for sure. We need to be in competition with ourselves. We should be required to grow and learn from everything that happens to us. We need to value who we are as individuals without comparing our triumphs to anybody else’s. We must be comfortable and content with what we are doing without taking anybody else’s expectations into account. Bright futures are not promised or definite, but they are there when we want to find them.