Two years ago, I was a high school senior on the cusp of graduation and a whole lot of new beginnings. Now, I am less than two weeks away from being a rising junior (!!!) on the cusp of so much more than I can imagine as I write this.
With my sophomore year at the University of Florida coming to a close, I have rounded up some sorta-cheesy-yet-true “take home” messages, if you will.
One of my professors told my class that he wanted us to be able to “see the trees and the forrest” – meaning that in order to succeed in the class, we needed to pay attention to the tiny details and how they play into the overarching themes. As a figurative language junkie (wow, that’s probably the nerdiest thing I have ever said about myself), I really liked the metaphor, so I’m adapting it a little bit.
Without further ado, here are some of the (palm) trees that have defined my sophomore year.
Don’t be afraid to be eager.
I know many people who are afraid to speak up, ask questions, show interest or introduce themselves to someone new simply because they are afraid of coming off as too “eager” – or, as my generation likes to say, “thirsty.”
However, in a world of people who fear giving off a certain impression or saying the wrong thing, I’ve learned that one of the best things you can do is to bite the bullet and put yourself out there.
Whether it meant going to the 8:30 a.m. office hours of a seemingly intimidating professor (who would turn out to be one of my favorite teachers) or asking an older student I have never met for advice about internships or which classes to take, speaking up and asking questions has only led to good things.
Time and time again, I am reminded of the importance of being an advocate for my own career – and part of that is being persistent and passionate.
An older student who has become a really great friend and mentor said it best: “You might think you’re being thirsty, but this is your career. . . you have to be a little thirsty!”
It’s OK to get your hopes up.
I think it’s sad that, in today’s day and age, we are oftentimes so bogged down by the fear of failure that we have to stop ourselves from ever imagining that something will go right. People who are overly optimistic are seen as unrealistic, yet those who are pessimistic are seen as Debbie Downers, for lack of a better term. Is there a happy medium?
“Dream on, but don’t imagine they’ll all come true.”
This line from Billy Joel’s “Vienna” perfectly captures the notion that being hopeful should come with a sort of disclaimer.
Sure, getting excited about something that could very well not happen is a dangerous habit – but what would we do if we didn’t have goals for the future keeping us on our toes? What would life be like if we never let ourselves get excited about anything?
I believe it is human nature to get our hopes up.
Lying in bed at night and thinking about our ultimate career aspirations, wondering if something will last forever, dreaming about our nonexistent plans to travel the world, or planning the color scheme for our imaginary studio apartment in New York City (OK, maybe that’s just me) are all ways in which we are getting our hopes up.
Some days, my dreams for the future scare me – but mostly, they inspire me. My conclusion is that it’s important to hold onto my aspirations and to be hopeful for the future because that’s part of my personality. However, this doesn’t mean I have my head in the clouds. I am well-aware that dreams are nothing without the persistence, creativity, resilience and hustling it takes to make them a reality.
Let yourself be inspired.
We all have places, people and activities that inspire us. One of the “little things” I love most about being a student at the University of Florida is walking around campus on a quiet weekend (if it’s not downpour-ing, that is). Something about the brick buildings and Spanish moss-lined pathways reminds me of my first visit to UF and how lucky I am to feel at home here.
You can learn a lot from being a good listener.
Maybe it’s the fact that interviewing strangers is an inherent part of my journalism coursework, but I’ve found that the most uncomfortable or unsuspecting moments can lead to something great – a new relationship, or, at the very least, an interesting encounter.
I’ll even throw my tagline in there: We all have a story to tell – and at the heart of it all, I think we can all learn something from one another.
Always make time for the people and things that make you happy.
Dreams and goals become so much more real when you have people to share them with. Between sorority sisters, my fellow J-School Ambassadors, my Her Campus team (which I will soon be leading!) and some of my closest friends who I met in the first few weeks of my freshman year, I feel lucky to be a part of so many different communities. The friendships, laughs, memories, inside jokes and special moments have made me who I am and are the things that will continue to make my UF experience unique.
As per usual, it is hard to believe finals week is here. My semester has been filled with lots of reading, lots of reporting and many attempts to memorize the AP Stylebook – but I’m in the home stretch, and I can’t wait for what’s next.
Here’s to year two,