A Freshman Year Reflection

Freshman year was a roller coaster. The experiences that come with the first year of college life can be incredibly valuable in any sense. If it was a great year, and you worked hard academically, made new friends, and gained great life experiences, these memories will stay with you forever. If this was a bad year for you, and maybe you lost your way, didn’t do as well in your classes, or had some tough times, the way you fought to overcome it can be applied to other areas of life. Whatever the year was for you, I challenge you to reflection on the highs and lows and what brought you to this moment.

The thing about life is that it’s a personal experience for everyone. No person has the same journey. No person approaches a problem the same. No person has the lens in which you view the world. Because of this, it can feel like our journey is an individual one. However through my 19 years of life up until this point, I have seen the human experience shared by everyone. No person is free from the curveball we call life. What you consider your “best years” may happen when you are young, or maybe they take place when you are older. However, I think there is a catch. Whenever you view a phase or point in our life as the best, everything around it is deemed as worst. But at the end of the day, isn’t it still possible to learn from even the worst times?

In our biggest times of downfall in life, it can seem we are at our weakest. When we let these weaknesses perpetuate, it is then that we have given up. In trying to fight every battle, even ones that seem to be lost, we can learn a lot about ourselves, and sometimes, we can even find our strengths. The same can be said for our best moments. When we are thriving, we feel our most productive. We possess an inner confidence that allows us to approach each day fearlessly. It’s the collection of our good and bad times that essentially make us who we are.

Through our mistakes and triumphs, we are still human beings. One of the most important things I’ve come to realize is that we can’t let out highs get too high or let our lows get too low. If we live in a state of constant bliss or one of consistent torture, we can miss out on the most important things in life. There will always be a regression to the mean. Regression to the mean is a term that means things will always even out. No matter how bad things get, or how good…they will always go back to the middle. Whatever your state in life right now, look forward to both the happiness and challenges that life will bring. Surely, we can all come out on the other side. We survived freshman year, right?

Why Do We Do It?

So often in college you always feel like you are trying to catch up. It can feel like a sprint to get from one place to the next, or finish one assignment, then cram for a test. It just seems like you can’t ever pump the breaks, but that you always have to keep going. At times, I’ve let this get the best of me, but I’ve said it before on this blog: college is the long game. It requires endurance and persistence and unwavering will to keep going even when that is honestly the last thing you would rather do. Sometimes we are so focused on what we are doing that we can forget where we are headed. “What it’s all for? What’s it all mean? Who am I?” – These are the questions I seem to ask myself often, looking for something more than to just go through life, but to live it with a bigger purpose. The journey in finding who I am and what I have to offer the world is never ending; it’s what motivates me each day. As a student, it’s easy to believe that we are defined by test scores, or popularity, or the number of followers we have on social media, but time and time again, our inability to find happiness in these things has proven that they are not enough. As I have realized these things through my own experiences, I have learned that my moral integrity and sense of purpose has given me a greater desire to find more passion in my life and in the path that was planned for me.  

In pursuit of my dreams and goals, I have always been aware of what it would take. Sometimes I live so determined to make things work out that I lose sight of important things. To work on this, I continue to remind myself that my journey is a process that cannot be rushed. It requires patience. It requires sacrifice. It requires persistence. I owe it to the people that have invested in me to be something they can be proud of, and it is my duty to repay the people who saw something in me when I couldn’t see it in myself. So many people often quit and give up on a dream because they do not know why they are doing something. Once I realized the bigger picture and learned that my actions are not rooted in myself, I learned that my intentions were not about me, but those around me. When I saw there was a bigger purpose to how to live my life, and honor the people that have helped me in my struggles, it was enough to work harder and to be better.

It’s so easy to give up on myself sometimes, but it helped to remember that I can’t do things out of selfish desires. Without a driving force or bigger purpose, so many students can feel like it’s easier to give up, but I want to be pushed. I want to take a shot at adversity, because at least I would tried, and given my best effort. For me, it’s not enough to just go through the motions of life. I need to live through the process of experience even if the end isn’t perfect. Nobody can have everything they want in life, but there is a plan for each of us. I think my experiences and characteristics were given to me so that I can fulfill God’s plan for my life. I have faced my setbacks and faced my challenges, but I wouldn’t be who I am without them. 


The Climb

“I can almost see it, that dream I’m dreaming.” If you are like most other people, you grew up watching Disney Channel shows like the The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, That’s So Raven, and Hannah Montana. When Hannah Montana really took off, the show made a movie that still you still secretly watch every once in awhile. At the same time, these good old days are the reason you still have kept up with the the stages of Miley Cyrus, through her role in The Last Song, “Wrecking Ball” glory, or even when she was a mentor on The Voice. Regardless, the Hannah Montana movie and the song, “The Climb” actually contains a message that can resonate with a lot of college students.

For most people, going to college isn’t just to be stressed out, stay up all night studying, or going crazy on the weekends. There is a higher purpose in going through all of the tough times. With that it mind, we keep a dream in our head hoping to get there eventually. At the same time, as “The Climb” points out, “There’s a voice inside my head, saying, you’ll never reach it”. Between the beginning and the end, we feel lost, confused, and unprepared for many of the tasks that lie ahead of us. Despite all of that, so many people keep going. The persistence and willingness to keep pushing on battles is something we all hope becomes a part of our core character. When you think about, “another mountain” or an “uphill battle”, it really does feel like there’s no more you can possible do at times.

The college climb is not to be underestimated. There are so many things that people don’t consider. It really is possible to be weighed down by the world if you lose that overarching focus. There are going to be times when you can’t fix things, when everything happens at once, and you want to just quit, but at these times, we can feel most accomplished when we get through it. Perspective is such a big aspect of life and a part of “The Climb”. When Miley sings, “ain’t about how fast I get there, it’s about what’s waiting on the other side,” it addresses a perspective on obstacles that can be overlooked. So often, we get caught up on where we are going, we can forget where we are. In losing sight of where you are right now, it can make getting to this “dream” that much harder.

In Hannah Montana: The Movie, one of the most notable quotes is “Life’s a climb, but the view is great.” While this may be a cheesy line, aimed to resonate with a young audience, it’s kind of true, I think. We often don’t see what we have as we are reaching for it, but in reflection, we often come more appreciative. It’s important to take notice of our blessings as they come and keep working hard to get where we hope to be. The road to getting things we truly want is never easy, but by keeping a long term perspective and by remembering where we are going, the climb may not be so bad.

“We’re All in This Together”

There’s always something we have a love and hate relationship with. For me, one of those things is group projects. There are so many advantages to them, however, they can be very challenging. The pros or cons could go in either favor, but it really depends on the situation, the people in the group, and what type of project you are working on. In general, in almost any career, collaboration among a group of people to achieve a task is essential in making something work. Building effective communication skills, listening to to others ideas, and sharing a common goal all help a project to be completed well and efficiently.

Group projects can be great when the individual parts that make up a group have a role, carry out their role, and input on areas where they can be helpful. When working together it can be hard to share ideas, but with communication, these issues can be worked out. The best groups are comprised of members who are just as willing to listen as they are to share their personal ideas. When everyone is actively involved, the process not only is completed more efficiently, but it allows the experience to be more enjoyable. In contrast to doing projects alone, group projects are beneficial in terms of being more creative. When we work alone, we may only consider approaching a problem in only one way. When working with others, ideas can be more than one-dimensional and presented so that it appeals to a broader perspective. For these reasons, working in a group can be extremely advantageous, and allow a greater end result when carried out well.

Collaborating with others can also be really challenging for a number of reasons. Sometimes in groups, people think that if they blend or hide in the background, they won’t be noticed. When they are not the only person accountable, they let a few people take the reigns and hope to just throw their name on the project at the end. While not all people like to take control of a situation, input from other members is still incredibly important. Additionally, with more contributing members, it can help to have members focus on a particular section thoroughly, rather than spread across different aspects. However, when members don’t contribute, sometimes it can feel like the extra amount of people can slow the process. On the other side, with too many people looking to take control of a project without the support from others, a “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario can result.

Through my various experiences in projects in different areas of study, I have always tried to play on the advantages of being in a group. I have tried to always be an active member and carry out my roles the best I can. While a lot of people don’t put in as much effort in a project due to the deindividuation that occurs, I feel a greater responsible to carry out my role. When people are relying on you, it’s important to do the best you can because your work not only represents you, but it represents others. So at the end of the day, even when a group project is really frustrating, everyone is in it together.

Passion Blog 4: If You Feel You’re Sinking

Halfway through the semester, it can feel like the days are never ending. Especially in the weeks leading up to spring break, the projects, presentations, and exams all start to pile up and everything happens at the same time. As frustrating as that is, it makes me all that much more excited for the break, when I hopefully don’t have to worry about too much. However, before we get there, we have a lot to overcome. Sometimes, there will be days when you literally want to give up. All of those goals for the semester just don’t seem possible anymore, and you just feel tired all the time. A lot of people hit this point, but there has to be a way to come back from it, right?

When the stress builds up and you literally feel like your head is going to explode, it almost feels like you’re actually drowning. The pressure to keep up your grades, stay on top of your homework, stay healthy, and still remain sane is a daunting task, but it’s still an achievable one (I think)! Sometimes, the breakdown is necessary in order to have the comeback. Sometimes, we have to fall apart to put ourselves back together. Sometimes, a mistake in the present can catapult future success. It may seem out of context, but Big Sean had it right when he said, “Last night I took an L, but tonight I bounce back.” College is a continuous stream of days in which students are forced to bounce back from a series of obstacles. That’s easier said then done, but sometimes, when you feel you’re sinking, you just need to try positive thinking.

Positive thinking can seem cliche to so many people, but attitude is the key to overcoming most situations. Most people don’t consider the effect that optimism can have on their performance. At least for me, I place a lot of the stress on myself, and in trying to perfect things, I can lose track of what is important. Stepping back and evaluating situations for what they are, instead of how it feels, can be crucial at times. Positive thinking can be more than just this “fluff” idea that people can dismiss.

Positive thinking promotes work ethic and persistence. Barbara Fredrickson, from the University of North Carolina, is a positive psychology researcher looking into these aspects. Fear, stress and negative thoughts can paralyze us, and prevent us from doing anything if we let it. It can make us narrow minded when we negative thinkers, whereas Fredrickson has noted the “broaden and build” theory through her research. The theory suggests that positive emotions broaden a person’s sense of possibilities, which allow them to build new skills for application in various jobs and life situations. Maybe that’s what we all need: a positive perspective. However, that’s very much easier said than done.

Often times, we determine our happiness or mood based on our success. Feeling great after a test you did well on or feeling miserable after failing one are not uncommon experiences for people. There is something more to consider though. Does happiness always bring success? Does success always make us happy Putting off happiness until we achieve some relative goal is a common mistake for most people, but what if happiness is our key to success? So when you feel you’re sinking, try positive sinking.

How Positive Thinking Builds Your Skills, Boosts Your Health, and Improves Your Work