Open Heart and Anchoring Mind

Eric Ames

College is hard; some weeks, I feel like I am falling behind in either my studies, social life, or sleep. In times of desperation, one might find quotes of some use – like the quote from Jordan Hoechlin that goes: “It never gets easier, you just get better.” But what exactly does “better” mean? How do you get “better” at playing the game of college? While many would say  that the worst has yet to come, as a freshman, I can attest to the difficulty of some challenges that go alongside being in college: foremost being social and organizational. Therefore, I write this entry to provide the wisdom I have gathered from some of my experiences so far. This entry is written from a freshman’s perspective and, therefore, may speak on issues most visible to a fresh set of eyes. 

The Social Shock of Going to College 

While I would like to talk about many of the experiences first-year students deal with, like having a roommate for the first time or going to orientation over the summer (and may in later editions) – I am instead going to focus on a couple of other points: making friends and homesickness. 

 A huge challenge for me and many others—the daunting task of making friends will not happen overnight and can at least be partially tamed by joining clubs, a sport, or talking to people in your classes. 

Being placed in a new environment for the first time comes with new stressors and responsibilities. Making friends is suddenly a top priority and doing your own laundry and scheduling your week is now a requirement. Feeling homesick, that craving for familiarity? That melancholic feeling for the life you have left behind is real. 

The social atmosphere in college takes courage to overcome. My advice is to say yes to plans with people you typically would say no to, and keeping in contact with your friends and family back home for a time will ease your transition. In addition, be sure to address or change situations that do not serve you. Autonomy and initiative are key to a successful social experience.

Influx of Opportunities 

One thing that surprised me about WSU is the number of programs in place to help integrate you into college life. Some programs prepare you for the college workload, but other events you can do with your friends for fun. 

It is important to note that there is essentially a place you can go for just about any question you may have. Most RA’s are trustworthy and are great sources of information. What’s more, there is a financial aid office for your financial questions, a Reslife for your residence questions, an intramural director for any questions on sports and physical clubs, and the list goes on. Just ask your RA or a faculty member, and they should be able to point you in the right direction.

With the surplus of social and informational programs, clubs, sports, and so on, I find myself following every opportunity that piques my interest. With this knowledge in mind, wisely choosing which activities you participate in is important to avoid spreading yourself too thin. 

Personal Anecdote

My experience in college so far has been going well, but it has certainly felt like a whirlwind. My workload is chaotic, I feel quite disorganized most of the time, and the social shock is real. The suggestions described above are helpful but also hard to implement. Though difficult, using these tips is the entire challenge as it will not simply solve the symptom but the broader issue. 

The title of this entry is Open Heart and Anchoring Mind. The moral of the title aligns with the tips mentioned – to have a successful school year, there is a balance that needs to be struck between the passion of your heart and the guidance of your mind. Think of it through the analogy of a bow and arrow. A preferable bow has the same job as an anchoring mind – it is sturdy, not so loose as to be flimsy, but flexible enough to shoot your arrow. And your arrow is your heart’s passion. Your passion will launch you in the most appealing directions, similar to how you may be inclined to join events or clubs of interest. Striking a combination between the two means you can follow your passions but are grounded enough not to over-burden yourself or to make those tough decisions.

Jordan Hochlin’s quote, “It never gets easier, you just get better,” is vague in that it does not tell you how to get better. Therefore, reader, upon reflection of this entry, I urge you to find the balance between your heart and mind in order to teach yourself the ways of self-betterment.

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