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Lessons Learned Through Notes To Myself In My Dorm Room

When I moved into Bursley Hall, I had no idea how many sweet, funny, and painful moments my roomie and I would endure throughout the course of freshman year.  When one of us needs advice, we look no further than the walls of our room, where we’ve hung up countless notes-to-self reminding us of what we’ve discovered this year.  Here are just a few life lessons we’ve learned so you don’t have to.

1. Learn to love rejection 

My roommate, Lili, is one of the smartest people I know, if not the absolute smartest. She has everything going for her — she’s talented, driven, and such a hard worker.  Honestly, if I didn’t know her, I’d say it’s impossible, that nobody can be that good at everything.  

However, living with her has shown me that nobody, not even someone as perfect as Lili, gets everything she wants.  We were at our desks in our room when she got two emails rejecting her from programs she’d applied for that week.  She was heartbroken; the smart, determined Lili I knew suddenly had a quiet voice and sad eyes.  I totally understood her pain.  Every success-hungry college student fears rejection, especially me.  But guess what?  We risk rejection every day.  We turn in papers when we don’t know what grade we’ll get, we participate in discussion sections when we don’t know who will refute our comments, we post pictures on IG that might not get any likes (I wish this was sarcasm).  I don’t understand how someone as incredible as Lili can get rejected from anything, but that’s the wrong way of looking at things.  I should be wondering how anyone can expect to be as incredible as Lili if they aren’t willing to risk rejection the way she does.  Lili was disheartened after opening those emails, but that pain turned into the determination that makes her who she is.  This is why she’s so good at everything.  Successful people are willing to face failure.  After we talked about this for awhile, she scrawled “take rejection and make it your bitch” down on a sticky note to hang up on her desk, and started researching more opportunities she could apply for.

2. Get in the zone

The first time Lili and I tried to do homework in our room, we filled out two pages of our stats 250 coursepacks, and made a six-page long list of things that had given us “Good Vibes” or “Bad Vibes” so far that year.  That’s when we were forced to learn what may be our most important lesson of freshman year: how to get in the zone when you share a room with your best friend.  Now, whenever we study, we put on a timer and each get a sheet of paper.  Until the timer goes off, we’re not allowed to say a word to each other.  Instead, we write everything down, no matter how urgent it seems.  When we’re done studying, we read our lists to each other and usually find out that most things only seem urgent when you’re desperately searching for an excuse not to do stats. Upcoming freshmen, utilize this technique.  If you’re any bit as procrastination-prone as me, it’s the only way to get things done.

3. It’s not your fault he treated you like that 

You know how every girl who’s lived in a dorm has developed a huge crush on some guy she sees in the dining hall?  (If you deny this, then you’re definitely not a girl who’s lived in a dorm). Mine and Lili’s dorm crush is named Daps, short for “guy who looks dapper in a suit.” One night, Lili and I started to talk about whether we should ever introduce ourselves to him.  We said no — having him be “Daps” was so fun, and if we ever talked to him, we ran the risk of him not being Daps anymore.  He might have a bad personality, or not like us, or both of us might end up liking him.  But our friend Orin encouraged us to talk to him, and said this quote, which is now hanging on our refrigerator.

Fast forward a couple months, and some dumb boy completely led on one of my best friends.  She felt like it was her fault and couldn’t stop wondering what she’d done wrong.  That’s when we read her Orin’s quote.  We girls try so hard to be perfect, thinking that we’ll make boys treat us better.  In reality, when a relationship doesn’t work out, it just means that, like Orin said, he wasn’t the right Daps.  It’s a difficult lesson, but an important one (and best digested along with some Ben & Jerry’s peanut butter cookie ice cream).  It’s so easy to wish you would’ve done things differently.  Let all that go.  The right Daps won’t cause you that stress.  If he does, he’s not the right Daps.


4. Do what you love 

I was planning on going to Ross until the cashier at Bed Bath & Beyond told me not to.  It may sound like I put my life in the hands of the guy who rang up my bedsheets, but the decision was simple.  He asked if I was good at the math (which Ross is fairly heavy in), and I realized, no, there are so many things I enjoy more and am better at.  Lili wrote down this quote from Dr. Roland Blackwood at the MLK symposium in January: “Stop worrying what others will think.  Activate the gifts you’re given.”  When people ask my major, I want to tell them I attend the Ross School of Business.  How impressive would that be?  It’s one of the most prestigious business schools in the country.  But if my passions lie elsewhere, it’s unfair to the world to try to impress others.  Utilizing the skills that I do have, not the skills I want to have, is what would allow me to make a difference.  This isn’t to say that I’ll never apply to Ross, but to say that if I do, it’ll be because I want to.  The world would be a much better place if we all activated the gifts we were given and used them for good.


Photos courtesy of Hannah Harshe.  


Hannah is an editorial intern for Her Campus and the editor of the High School section as well as a chapter writer for the University of Michigan. Achievements include being voted "Biggest Belieber" (2010) and "Most Likely to Have a Child Born Addicted to Starbucks" (2016), as well as taking a selfie with the back of Jim Harbaugh's head.  Goals for the future include taking a selfie with the front of Jim Harbaugh's head.  She's also an obsessive Instagrammer, so hit her with a follow @hannah.harshe
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