College is (not) that easy: Lessons from a six-year-old

College life is not that easy.

(lessons from an almost 6-year-old Erin)

As I got into the car, eyes very watery; a headache getting worse; shaking a little and trying to hide it; many thoughts whirling in my head; all I was asking myself were “what ifs.” What if I was not ready for college? What if nobody liked me as a friend? What if classes were too hard? What if I missed home, and the seven-hour time zone difference would not allow me to call home as much as I was used to? You can tell that I was overwhelmed. All I had were negative thoughts, with no hope at all. Yet, to my surprise, I heard a soft voice coming from Erin, my young sister, “If you don’t go to school now, you will never meet new people.” I am very sure that mum and dad had said that to her before going to kindergarten, because she was nervous about this whole experience.

When Erin told me that I would not be able to make new friends if I did not go to college, my immediate implicit response was, “I am not here to make friends.” However, when I sat in my dorm room, I realized the significance of Erin’s words. It is okay to fear new experiences but, it is not okay to be scared to the extent of giving up on them. College is a very diverse environment; people from all over the world are here at UW! It can be overwhelming at times, but give it a try.

Residence halls on campus provide great ways to interact. It does not matter who you are or where you are from. Just go out there, introduce yourself and witness the magic happen. Making new friends, especially those who come from different backgrounds than your own, is a great foundation for college. A balanced social life leads to a boost in the academic life. Make use of all the sporting events, social gatherings, clubs, residential life activities, etc. JUST GO OUT THERE! This might be easier said than done, but a little effort will not kill.

The other crucial lesson I learned from Erin is that no matter how hard things get, never give up. Keep trying; fail forward. I remember mum and I took Erin to the park; and she had a serious breakdown, because she could not finish her way through the monkey bars. As I looked at her in tears going back up and falling many times, I witnessed determination at its youngest stages. At some point, I thought she was being hard on herself by going back up and falling continuously, but then I realized that she knew she was going to get it right at some point. Giving up was not going to solve anything. Just like Erin and the monkey bars, you can be like that with every aspect of your college life: academics, social life, spirituality, anything. Keep falling and going back up. You will master it all.

Remember, college is all about thriving. Yes, it is. Maintain the balance and never under-estimate yourself.  Try out new things, meet new people with different cultures. Respect differences. If you stay in your own comfort zone, “you will never meet new people.”

I hope you thrive and thank little Erin when you do. It’s already working for me.

‘Till next time,

Badger Miranda!

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