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Things I Wish I Could Tell My First-Year Self

Reflecting on previous versions of myself is often a cringe-worthy experience, at first.

*flashback of interaction with a person you know vaguely but see daily*

Me: Hi, how are you ?

Person: Fine thanks, how are you?

Me: fine thanks, how are you ?

Person: …

Me: …

The past often unfolds, not as coherent deterministic events, but rather as a flurry of actions and words that accumulate to form this messy collage of significant experiences. I remember the past through songs, smells and feelings. So, the awkward conversations above are not stored in the mind in neatly labeled shelves, but are more of a vague combination of senses manifesting to the soundtrack of Coco by O.T Genasis (the song of  O-week in my first year). The mind, and what it produces, is a tableau to which you have to assign meaning and this takes time and empathy for self. Starting university is both daunting and exciting and as I get into my final year, I would like to say some things to my first year self:

  1. Listen to the discomfort you feel – sit with it and get to know it. Sometimes it is a catalyst for growth. Try new things and put yourself out there. University can be a great place for personal development, as there are a large number of people from different places with varying experiences of the world. Reach out more, despite the initial feeling of trepidation – there’s a lot to learn from people.

Sometimes discomfort is a valid alarm system. If you feel like you’re stifled by certain people or places, disengage from them. Viewing the wreckage someone has left in your life has this salient sting when you sort of expected it.


  1. Apply yourself in class, feeling challenged by things you find interesting is a special high. You will feel hopeful and pleasantly humbled by the fact that you do not know much – deeply at least. You will feel affirmed in your capacity to learn and critically engage with the world.

3. Be kind. This is the cardinal rule of life, I will not elaborate.

4. Do things outside of university. Create things, develop skills, hobbies and interests outside of what you’re studying and the people you interact with daily. I think this is important in forming an identity that is truly yours.

5. There is no need for performative emotions. You do not need to feign happiness all the time. Smiling should not be your default expression. Feel what you feel.

6. It is okay to feel unsure about yourself and to feel lost. Uncertainty is a point of departure. What is important is that you attempt to depart, it doesn’t matter how slowly. As Miles Davis once said, “sometimes it takes a long time to sound like yourself”.

Secretly annoyingly optimistic
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