How to make a space for yourself in the stressful environment of Berkeley

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Hannah Cooper/File

UC Berkeley is a very large institution. There are more than 30,0000 of us constantly swimming against the current. Though some of us may feel like Dory, some of us will feel like Marlin. The important thing is to find a balance. It’s healthy to experience a mix of enthusiasm as well as fear when meandering through the thicks and thins of college. If you’re feeling lost or without a purpose, just know that statistics are on your side when we say that there will be at least one person on campus who feels the same way you do.

Before taking immediate action, take a second and remind yourself that you deserve to study at UC Berkeley. You’re one of the very few undergraduates who has been given the privilege to study among the leading researchers of their fields. While you may be struggling to make a name for yourself, just know that even the leading researchers were probably struggling at one point too.

Now that you have come to terms with your place in this quickly changing environment, you can take action so that things do not move at a pace out of your control. It’s one thing to seem like you have control of your situation and it’s another thing to actually have control. Different things work for different people. Some ways in which you can have control are to create a weekly planner, have a person to hold you accountable and distinguish when you have influence over a situation or not.

Once you’ve attained a sense of what you can and cannot control with your actions, you can start acting on what you can influence. The key is to take necessary steps that allow for your environment to be in your favor. Knowing your own skills and weak points becomes useful at this stage. Use any downtime you have to build up your skills and improve your weak points. Once you have a few skills that you consistently exercise, you will have a means to distinguish yourself from others. If you want to make a space for yourself at Berkeley, don’t fall into the trap of being hindered by your weaknesses. As soon as you start defining yourself through your weaknesses, so will the people around you. As a result, the group of people around you will start to forget about your less-vocalized strengths.

The previous steps that I’ve elaborated are very general. Obviously, there are many obstacles and challenges that many of us students must tackle on a daily basis. It’s beneficial, however, to view any challenges as something to gain for your own development at the end of the day. Creating a space for yourself at Berkeley could be as simple as surrounding yourself with a group of supportive peers. Feelings of isolation are to be avoided when attempting to make a space for yourself. This may seem contradictory in theory, but in practice it is not.

UC Berkeley is an interesting place, because though we are all fall under the category of UC Berkeley students, we’ve all managed to find outlets that allow us to distinguish ourselves from other students. Within the Berkeley community, there are smaller communities that offer different means of support to everyone.

I challenge you to discover your place in Berkeley and think about your next step in ensuring that the rest of your college career is fulfilling.

Contact Malvika Singhal at [email protected].