Welcome, and thank you for taking a moment to get acquainted or reacquainted with the Torch as we embark on another year in academia.
I realized recently that I am enjoying my last official summer off before I graduate and metamorphose into a full-blown adult. In nine short months, my life will no longer be defined by school in the way it has been for the last 16 years. I realized other things as well, such as that I am great at being a student, I have note taking down to a science, I religiously schedule time to do homework, I am nearly an expert at studying and I even catch myself reading academic materials for fun.
But once all of that is over and done with, and the need for these skills is stripped away, what’s left? While I realize I will likely get a full-time job after college, I’d argue that this won’t consume nearly as much time as school does. In the thick of it, I am sometimes caught dedicating 20 hours a week to a single class with four more on top of it. Sure, it’s slowed a bit as I have moved through my degree, but between school and work, I wasn’t taking the time to get to know myself.
I had a true “ah ha” moment at the beginning of August. I was working at a polling location for the primaries, as I do for most elections, and this time around I was on the absentee voter counting board. This saw me sequestered for several hours with a few hundred ballots to process, lots of downtime and no electronic devices, and it sent me into somewhat of a panic. It may sound small, but the struggle to figure out what to do with that spare time spiraled into me discovering that I didn’t quite know too much about myself.
I took this opportunity to challenge myself to try something new—a new experience, a new hobby, a new food or basically anything outside my laughably small comfort zone each week. I’m happy to report it’s already working. I started small by reading for leisure, and I returned to it. I got lucky with “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides, a good book right out of the gate, and it rekindled my joy for reading and made it less of a chore.
The week after that, my roommates and I decided to turn some errands into experiences, and we explored two cities we’ve only ever commuted through. I’m trying to give anything, big or small, a chance to see what I like and what I don’t. I am just still getting to know myself.
Peers, we only have a few short years here before we’re sent off into the real world. Gather your team, get out there and try something new! Join an RSO, attend campus events, go exploring, pick up a new book, try out a new game, anything, but just don’t forget to start to get to know yourself before you get out there.