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!
Time has always been a concept you could not grasp. One day it seems like you have an abundance of it and the next day it’s fleeting. I advise you to do the absolute most you can with your 4 years at Rutgers because they will come to an end before you’ve had a chance to notice them passing.
You are not a tree, if you are unhappy, you can move…I wish you knew this earlier but it will come to you in time. Take your passion for literature that has followed you throughout high school and let it guide you through college. It will be hard and a bit tiresome but don’t listen to people who tell you not to pursue a degree in English. No one knows what is best for you better than yourself. The world is filled with unhappy people but you do not have to be one of them. This brings me to another point: It’s also okay to pursue a career you think you’re highly “underqualified” for – you are surely not. Seek experiences and job opportunities that teach you something new or that open you up to an array of possibilities. Rome was not built in a day and your career won’t be either.
Steer clear of fried Oreos at the dining hall, the freshman 15 is no myth – believe me. While your grades are important, so is your mental and physical health. You need to eat proper meals to fuel your mind and body, coffee does not count as breakfast and a granola bar is not dinner. Take the time to tend to your own needs and do things that make you feel good about yourself, about your life.
True to your nature, you enjoy alone time just as much as you thrive in a social setting. It’s okay to say no to a night out with friends to stay in and spend time on your own. If you need to retreat when the demands of school are too overwhelming, by all means, retreat. Now, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take every opportunity you’re interested in. This is how you will grow and flourish over time. Step out of your comfort zone because although it may keep you safe, it surely doesn’t teach you much either.
You will become resilient in the face of adversity. You will learn how and when to pick and choose your own battles, without ever silencing yourself. You will learn to be hopeful even when it feels like there’s no positive energy left in you. You will learn that even the greatest of people can fail miserably and still accomplish incredible things. Most importantly, you will learn to be unapologetically you, in every sense of the phrase.