In a place where someone else’s drive and motivation will catch you off guard, it’s hard not to get sucked into the UC Berkeley never-ending race to success. What about those doors that inspire you when they open — with enticing promises in exchange for a little determination? The ability and desire to work hard to attain your goals are healthy and important, and we’re not debunking that. But the means — the anxiety and distress that we’ll put ourselves through — tend to obscure our values, or rather bury them under our stack of used textbooks. Keeping yourself in check is crucial, and stepping back and reflecting on these values should serve as a helpful first step.
College harbors a wealth of opportunities. Ever made your way down Sproul Plaza? Those flyers you felt too uncomfortable to decline describe “incredible” clubs with “life-changing” experiences, and they now sit on your desk, likely staring you down and guilting you into an unwavering sense of obligation. The thing is, those campus organizations probably are incredible and life-changing, but you can’t do it all. Rejection is good; you can only really commit yourself to your passions when you don’t have 563 other responsibilities grappling for your attention. Sometimes, it’s OK to say no.
Be open to failing
Having expressed the beauty of rejection, we think that the flip-side is also true: trying is important. So is experimenting. And failing — it’s OK to fail. It’s OK to take a fascinating class that won’t boost your pre-Haas GPA, whip out some eccentric moves at a dance performance for the first time or travel across the country and open yourself up to a world of uncertainty. Trying implies failing at one point or another, but failing stimulates growth and knowledge and new opportunities.
Know your therapy
Everyone has their own. Whether it’s painting, singing, strolling along Strawberry Creek or watching the Rockets pummel the Clippers, know it and use it. It can be useful to set aside a few hours for your mind to enter “power-grind” mode, but at a certain point, you cannot work until you’ve taken a moment to relax both your muscles and your thoughts. Whatever academic or emotional stress is permeating through your head like a hot and liquid toxin can only be evaporated with a dose of relaxation.
Everything you do at UC Berkeley, you do with 29,000 undergrads representing a profusion of different backgrounds, interests, beliefs and goals. Get to know the people around you, and cherish those relationships. Call them up for an impulsive adventure, even if it’s only a late-night Safeway run, and cultivate your connections on a regular basis despite your endless to-do list. Consider what you’ll want to remember in four years, and what will have shaped your life 10 or 20 years down the line. Is it a math derivative or a memory with your best friend?
While it’s important to put your best foot forward, don’t forget to take care of yourself!
Contact Shaked Salem at [email protected].