I come from a town that has college fairs for kids in the fifth grade. Free t-shirts, pencils, and information booklets, all emblazoned
with university names, for beings that seem like they were in the womb just last week. College these days isn’t so much an option as it is your inevitable
fate. The plan is simple: Get into one of the most prestigious schools, get into an
equally well-recognized graduate school, and find a successful job. No big deal
So naturally, I was always advised to have a life plan. At
the age of 11, after watching far too many seasons of House, M.D., I
decided I was going to be a doctor. It wasn’t until the day after I got my
college acceptance letter that I realized, perhaps, I didn’t want to be
a doctor after all. Then the panic set in. On my third day at Scripps, I remember sprinting from my academic adviser’s office to Career Planning and Resources, practically on the verge of a mental breakdown because I wasn’t sure what to do without a plan.
After a lovely woman at the front desk managed to calm me down,
I did what any mature college student (and now legal adult!) would do—I
called my mom. Following our long discussion, I realized then the true meaning
of being a first-year at a liberal arts college: having absolutely no clue
what you want to do or be in life and embracing that uncertainty wholeheartedly.
My first months of college have been fantastic. Admittedly, my
transition to both the social scene and the academic workload here felt
somewhat like being tossed into the deep end of a pool and relying on self-preservation
to learn how to swim. However, I’m proud to say that I’ve now managed to find
How, you might ask? Simply put, I have come to
appreciate the importance of spontaneity.
I’ve learned so much since I’ve been here—not
so much by planning and preparing beforehand, but rather by doing, by taking
the occasional risk and not worrying about the consequences that may follow. Of
course, finding a happy medium is necessary, but some of the best experiences
happen just by stumbling upon them or taking an opportunity when it presents
itself to you. As first-years, we have the privilege of not needing to decide anything permanently yet and of allowing ourselves to make a generous number of mistakes and step outside of our comfort zone.
During the third week of school, I made the decision to run
for first-year representative against five other girls, despite knowing a very
small percentage of students at Scripps and the fact that I had as much
experience in politics as Miley Cyrus does in wearing pants. I decided to give it my best effort anyway, and for a little over a week I spent my days
campaigning in preparation for voting day.
I lost in the first round of run-offs, but I ended up meeting
so many new people in the process that it really didn’t feel like a loss. Had I not
run, I probably would have continued living the hermit life, surrounded by my
many seasons of Arrested Development and individual packages of instant rice. I
definitely wouldn’t have gone out of my way to meet others, which was the push
I really needed to expand my social circle and get to know the people I would
be spending the rest of my college experience with.
My first party experience here was also the first party I’ve
ever been to in my life. That night, my roommate and I had no intention of
going out. We had gotten takeout from the
dining hall and propped my laptop up on my bed so we could watch 13 Going on
30. After the masterpiece of pure romantic comedy, my roommate’s sister called and invited
us out. We hesitated for a moment before agreeing that, on a Saturday night, we
should probably be socializing with others instead of weeping over the beauty
that is Mark Ruffalo. We headed out to North Quad with no idea what
to expect. Much to our surprise, the night evolved into a series of fun
parties, and we returned home in the early hours of the morning both exhausted
and in awe of the night we had just enjoyed.
While both of these experiences were spur of the moment, spontaneous decisions, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Had I decided
against running for fear of failure, or had we not taken the opportunity and
left the comfort of our dorm room, we wouldn’t have had the same experiences or
met the people we did, all of which I’m now incredibly grateful for.
So, my fellow first-years, a word of advice: Slow down. Stop
for a moment and take a deep breath. Don’t forget to give yourself the thrill
of taking chances and the room to make mistakes. The truth is that it’s okay to
be lost, because we have another three years ahead of us to find ourselves.