When I first came to college, my biggest concern was choosing my major. I thought I was choosing my entire life path. I remember pacing the hallway of my freshman year dorm on the phone with my father, describing my worries. I felt pressure to choose a major with a high guaranteed employment rate and salary upon graduation, something that would give me a clear path through life. I worried that if I chose a major like that, I wouldn’t end up enjoying my classes or savoring my time in college.
It took me a year to admit that what I really wanted to do was study English. I told my roommate the news grudgingly, as if it was some new and strange secret about myself I had uncovered. My roommate said, “Well, of course!” She had known all along that I loved English. But she couldn’t have told me I was going to become an English major—honestly, if she had, I probably wouldn’t have listened. I had to take different classes and figure it out on my own time.
After four years in college, I’ve realized that it’s more important to have a structure than to have a path. I was terrified in freshman year that I didn’t know where I was going with my life, and I thought knowing my major would be the answer. But honestly, now that I have two majors and am graduating in a month, I still don’t actually have the answers to my future. So instead of knowing where I’m going, I’ve decided to know where I am. Here are my tips for knowing the present:
Make time to read.
I barely read for fun in my first few years of college because I worried that in the time I was reading, I could be out meeting interesting people, doing interesting things, or getting my work done. I’m sorry past me—all of that is overrated. What’s the point in someone who loved reading as a child giving it up for a few years to “avoid missing out?” The only thing I was missing out on was reading. Plus, reading is both relaxing and stimulating, while doing things all the time is stimulating and exhausting.
Busy is not better!
And that leads me to my second point: doing things all the time is OVERRATED. There’s a weird culture in the US in general and at UConn in particular where busyness becomes a kind of status symbol, where if you’re not overworked and exhausted all the time, the assumption is you must not be having a lot of fun. Honestly, I think it becomes an addicting and insidious sort of fear where doing less means missing out or falling behind—which is why I recommend reading. You are missing out and falling behind on your fun reading. Please prioritize that, and also getting a full night’s sleep.
Prioritize your relationships.
It’s taken me a while to learn to say this clearly, so now I’ll say it loudly now, in the words of my friend Bailey who edited this post: female friendships are so wholesome and enriching. Sometimes it takes a while to find the people who are your fit, who get you and support you, but that sort of being valued and giving value is an incredible experience. You probably won’t end college with many of the friends you started it with—I sure didn’t—but the important thing is that you value and enjoy each friendship you’re in, while you’re in it. Plus, friends you can rely on will understand when you decide to spend the evening in, catching up on your fun reading.