This piece is part of the Letters to My First-Year Self series in which students (current or past) look back on their first year here at Rutgers and give advice to their former selves. We are looking for contributions to this series; so if you’d like to participate, please send your reflection to I Am Rutgers via the Contribute tab at the top of this site!
4 years have passed since you have started your first year here at Rutgers. With each year came many obstacles and opportunities for self-growth. I am writing this letter to tell you the six most important lessons I learned from our undergraduate career. I hope they can give you some perspective on the amazing journey you are about to embark on.
1) Acknowledgment and Acceptance
To be at your best you must acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses. Accepting where you are and who you are is the first step to moving forward. Once you reach a sense of self-realization you can then start the steps to bettering yourself and finding things that will bring you happiness.
2) Growth and Change
Self-growth comes from criticism and it is the most difficult to gain because it requires change. Change for growth is not an organic process. You must push yourself and work hard to establish change. It’s scary to do but you will be so proud of yourself after you take this step. It will make you confident and as everyone says, confidence is key.
3) Self Care
Often we forget to love ourselves in this process of being a student. Don’t feel bad about that brownie. Splurge a little. You deserve to feel good about yourself and love yourself. When you love yourself you will attract others who want to be surrounded by that positive energy and form strong bonds and be able to appreciate the smaller things in life.
4) Find a Mentor
Find what you’re good at and then find someone who’s the best at it and make them your mentor. Having a mentor who is your number one supporter will make you work harder. They will help fuel your fire to want to be the best at your career and in life.
5) Support Your Support Systems
Call home. Call your friends. Often times when everything seems really tough and you feel lost your loved ones have an ability to re-ground you. Often times they are also struggling and need you as well. Relationships with people, family, friends, loved ones, etc. takes work and effort.
6) Dream as Big as you Can
Dream and then live it. Work tremendously hard and put passion into the work you do. If you can do this you will stand out and be noticed. Seriously, nothing feels better than pushing yourself in the field you love.
These are some of the most valuable things I learned and I hope you collect them and hold them close to you. Live every day like there is something new to learn. You can do this.