Things I Would Tell My Freshman Self
Well, the time has come, and after four long years at NYU it's almost time to graduate. Tomorrow I will sit amongst the tens of thousands of other 2017 graduates in Yankee Stadium, purple baseball cap on my head, and listen as the commencement speakers wane poetic about the charmed lives of the NYU student. But though it was incredibly rewarding and New York City has offered me some of the most amazing experiences, it was by no stretch of the imagination easy. To be cliché about it, though it's totally true, my blood, sweat, and tears have gone into this place, and I emerge from college a very different person than the girl who began. So I wanted to think back on some advice I would give myself when I started here as a freshman...
- So many people you meet in college are temporary
The period in your early twenties is full of a lot of temporary people, from people you meet at internships or in clubs on campus to people you meet when traveling or in the club. A lot of people will come and go and that's okay. You have to learn to focus your energy on those few who last and who will give you as much out of the friendship as you put into it. You can enjoy someone's company for awhile but once it's time to move on, just enjoy what you had when you had it instead of regretting the whole thing. I've met a whole lot of people and we've had great times together, like the friends I traveled with when I studied abroad then lost touch with or the friends I met in classes who I traded notes with and smile at when we pass on the sidewalk. Just because we didn't become best buds doesn't mean I don't still consider them friends, or at the very least acquaintances.
- Don't stress so much!
Let's be honest, I could still use this advice today, and though I really try to take breaks and take time for myself, it's usually amidst a haze of stress telling me I should be doing something else productive. It's actually gotten so bad that I now procrastinate doing work by doing other, less brain-power-intensive work. Oh, I have two papers due tomorrow? I'll spend four hours editing blog photos and organizing my blog calendar instead. I know this is a symptom of our constantly connected generation and study after study has shown various effects that our technology laden world can have on the psyche. But it's so important to take some moments to relax because you'll perform better in the end if you aren't a big ball of stress and anxiety. Read a book, get a massage, go to the movies with a friend--sometimes all you need is a few hours to recharge so that you can power through the rest of your work.
- Dress for the life you want
It may seem like obvious advice coming from a fashion blogger, someone who literally centers her life around fashion, but the way you dress and present yourself can make such a difference in the way you are perceived. You should show up to a job interview dressed professionally no matter what the position you are applying for may be. You should show up to Brooklyn wearing tattered jeans and a crop top (just kidding, but not really), head to a nice dinner wearing a little pink dress, or to a club wearing a tight black skirt. If you dress for the part, you will feel that much more confident playing the part. And always remember the golden rule: it's better to be overdressed and overeducated.
- Be reliable (this means be on time and keep your commitments)
As a type-A, neurotically OCD person, I can't stand it when I have to wait for people or when people let me down. But even more than that I get incredibly stressed when I am the one who's late or letting people down. It shows a huge amount of disrespect for whoever is waiting for you and though not every situation can be predicted and avoided, most of them can be with some foresight and planning. If you say you will be somewhere at 9:00, be there 15 minutes earlier at 8:45. If you say you will have an article written by Friday, get it done by Thursday so you can proofread it on Friday before sending it. It's just a level of common courtesy that, unfortunately, isn't common enough anymore.
- Do not overcommit (learn to say no)
If you stretch yourself too thin you will have a much harder time keeping your commitments. I have found that people would overwhelmingly appreciate if you simply tell them ahead of time that you have too much on your plate and cannot get everything done rather than have you scrambling and submitting half-assed work. That way you can adjust your schedule accordingly and time manage instead of letting everyone down by trying to handle more than you have time for. If you have hard deadlines for a test or a paper, make sure those are the priority and do not agree to other things that would impede your ability to get your priorities accomplished. And even moreso than that, know when to say no to something that just isn't interesting to you or doesn't benefit you in some way, because if you don't enjoy it you're unlikely to do it well.
- Learn to let go
Let go of the things that just aren't working out, like the friendship that causes you more stress than enjoyment, the boy who only texts after midnight, or the job that isn't getting you anywhere. Some things are worth fighting for but the majority are not. You have to learn to tell the difference and rid yourself of the things that are only weighing you down.
- Get comfortable being on your own
This one took some time and experience to learn but finding comfort in eating at a restaurant alone, sitting in the park with a good book alone, and even traveling alone, can be incredibly liberating experiences. How can you expect to deal with other people when you aren't even comfortable with yourself?
- You don't have to like everyone, but you do have to get along with most
Most people I know hated their freshman year roommate, most have had a professor that just really pissed them off, and most have dealt with that girl at work that seems to be determined to make their life hell. And as much as you grind your teeth every time you think of them and as much as they make your face red with anger, you just have to suck it up and deal with them. Out there in the real world there is no one to mediate except yourself and since there is no point causing yourself all that stress, you might as well just find a way to coexist. Or at the very least, have some fun by finding ways to get right back at them (strategically, of course, in a way that would make Machiavelli proud).
- Be involved in as much as possible
Maybe this is contradictory to not overcommitting, but in a way it has to do with finding and committing to those things that you truly enjoy and will get a real benefit out of. Don't sit at home all the time watching Netflix, instead go join a club, sign up for fitness classes, just do something that will keep you busy. It's better to be busy than bored, I always say.
- You can do anything you set your mind to!
Where there is a will, there is a way. If you want to start a blog, do it. If you want to get a job at your dream company, make some contacts, work your way up, and do it. If you want to start your own company, learn a few business skills, file for an LLC, and do it. Never lose your sense of adventure, make like Nike, and just do it!