Surround yourself with different opinions

Olivia Proe

Chief Copy Editor

 

As my time at Wooster comes to a close, though certainly not in the way I thought it would, I hope to pass on a few words of wisdom to those who still have a few more years here. I remember arriving to campus my first year filled with optimism and energy. Despite the fact that I was excited for college, however, I found my first few weeks exceptionally hard. I had struggled with mental health and painful relationships in high school that made me nervous to dive into a new social scene. There were a lot of tears behind closed doors despite the cheery façade I put on while in public.

Things gradually got better over time as I dipped my toes into new activities on campus. Despite the anxiety I felt speaking to new people, I did my best to be the outgoing one and reach out to others first — and I was pleasantly surprised when I found that I could be that person who was sociable and a leader. Though I lost my first two elections in Model UN and student government, eventually becoming president of both would have been beyond my wildest freshman dreams.

All of this is to say that you are capable of more than you think. Be the one to reach out first. Try the new thing you’ve always wanted to try. Even if you’ve never thought of yourself as a leader, everyone has the ability to become one. So much of the growing that you’ll do comes from challenging yourself. There’s nothing wrong with staying in your comfort zone as you get your bearings, but you’ll miss out on a lot if you don’t take those risks. 

Though I had always hoped my college experience would take the path of a hero’s journey, there has been a lot of growth and subsequent regression. Challenges have come up unexpectedly with mental illness, relationships, friends and major world events. Be patient with yourself as you come across those stumbling blocks. While there is a lot that’s in your control, some things aren’t, and you can use those moments as time for reflection. Hitting lows at unexpected times has taught me just as much as my accomplishments here. This past year especially has allowed me to strengthen relationships with my loved ones and re-evaluate the relationship I have with myself. While there is no sugarcoating the harm this year has caused so many, I have learned that self-compassion is one of the most valuable assets you can develop during this phase of life.

Whether this has been your first year at Wooster or you’re coming up on your last, it’s never too late to change the direction of your college career to get to that version of yourself you want to be. Undergrad will never go the way you expect it will, but that’s the beauty of it.