On Wintertime Doubts & Coffee Cups

As familiar winter winds scrape impatiently against your skin, you trudge up the snowy slopes while letting out a mental groan. (You don’t have the energy to let out an audible one, much less one that can be heard over the sound of the roaring winds.)

“Welcome to the Ivy League!” The acceptance letter had said. “Time to make a difference in the world.” Yep, that was the promising dream. It plays like a broken record in the back of your mind now.

As your thoughts dart madly from the TA’s office hours you’re trying to get to, the club interview to which you’ve been rejected to twice already and that confusing conversation with a professor, you almost start to wonder why you chose to come here in the first place. Libe cafe comes into view and you frown at the long line.

A small voice in the back of your mind taunts, “so you’ve made it to your dream school. Are you happy now?”

The clock tower chimes in the distance. All you want to do is wring the neck of the chime-master. It’s not even Christmas anymore, you grumble through gritted teeth.

What does “a difference in the world” mean anyway?

Before coming here, that phrase would paint in your mind’s eye a glorified image of a student coming up with an engineered solution or an inspiring lecture by a guest speaker who would somehow determine the career trajectory that will give you fame and happiness — fantasies that always seems to flit just a bit out of your reach.


You blink, feeling a little disoriented. It’s your friend, who happens to be working at the café.

You make a half-hearted smile. “Hey.”

“Extra caramel?” She asks.

Your eyebrows shoot up at the unexpected offer. “Yes please.”

“I got you.” She says, scrawling a smiley face on your cup.

You smile back a little in gratitude.

For some, a difference in the world is an engineering feat, for others, landing their dream job. Yet others still make their own positive differences in the world through simple acts of kindness that can brighten another’s spirits, even if only for a brief moment.

Being accepted at this university may be one of your achievements, but you can’t let your expectations of it determine your happiness here.

You haven’t got it all figured out, but neither has the other 20,000 people who are here. Might as well enjoy it while you can.

Keep drawing smileys on coffee cups.