3 Things I Learned From My First Month of College

 

It feels surreal that I can finally share my side of this story. For the past few years, I’ve been watching countless college advice videos on youtube or reading (HerCampus) articles on the internet and now that it’s finally my chance to share my own experience, it took me some time to think about what I wanted to say. Despite the challenges of virtual college, I’m honestly having a better time than I expected, and it’s all thanks to these lessons.

  1. 1. Rejection Can Lead to New Opportunities

    For an underclassman, navigating clubs/orgs is hard. Going in, you’re ambitious and ready to make an impact. You want to hold leadership positions, not for the resume clout, but because you are genuinely ready to work hard for a cause. In the back of your mind, you also hope that this experience can help you land summer jobs later down the line. That’s perfect because that’s what orgs are for: they’re just looking for someone eager to learn. Yet in reality, after you turn in your best applications, go through five different interviews a week, you find a rejection email in your inbox- “thank you for applying, but unfortunately, we cannot offer you a position.” Cue the downward spiral into “why am I not good enough?” So you smile and ask for feedback, only to discover despite them telling you there’s no experience needed, they chose someone else with experience. You can’t even argue, because the only thing you would have contributed was a positive attitude. However, even if one door (or 10) closes, another will open for you. It might not be today, but as long as you keep trying, you’ll find somewhere that sees potential in you, and you’ll belong. After experiencing rejection, I stopped dwelling on what I did wrong, and instead, I thought of it was a learning experience. I may not have passed that interview for whatever position, but now I can consider it a mock interview preparing me for the time when one day, I can ace the real one. 

  2. 2.  Speaking up Shouldn’t be Scary

    Public speaking: my go-to answer for the dreaded “Tell us your weakness” questions. As an introvert, one of my biggest regrets in high school was not participating in class as much as I would have liked to. I was always caught up in small details, like whether my classmates would think my voice sounded weird, or if anyone would think my answer was dumb. As I was forced to speak up more during college (partly for participation points), I slowly discovered that the only thing in my way was my mindset, not my voice or even the quality of my answer. I was so busy being critical of myself that I didn’t notice the person on the top right of my screen glancing at his phone, or the person on the bottom left staring into space. Even if everyone were paying attention, nobody would dissect my every move like I imagined. To me, part of growing up is learning how to communicate better with those around me, and that cannot happen until I can comfortably express my opinion verbally. While I still get nervous for discussions sometimes, I’m now able to push past my comfort zone and press unmute.

  3. 3. You’re not an Imposter (Unless You’re Playing Among Us)

    Imposter syndrome is real. As part of an honors program with 170 talented students, I couldn’t help but feel like I was number 170 to be admitted. In class discussions, I was continually learning from what my peers said while I felt like I was just stating the obvious, but I soon realized that it’s not about who had the best response to the reading- it’s about learning from each other and growing together. One time after discussion, a classmate told me I brought a unique perspective. On top of feeling validated, it made me think that in college, there are no imposters. Everyone brings a different viewpoint, and no matter how big or small the class, there’s always someone to learn from. You got in for a reason, and despite what you may think, you already belong.