Don’t tell my parents I cheated through college

There are 2 seasons at UMass: Winter & Pre-Winter

Every year at UMass I had a journal and I wrote down answers to problems. Every time I was tested with the same problem I would look at this notebook for the solution. I’m a cheater. Don’t tell me parents. My parents raised me better than this. I didn’t play fair. I took shortcuts. I had a guide to a test that my peers did not. I didn’t make notes to get me through academia but rather life’s exam. As a transition from college, I want to share my notes that make my life smooth.

Notes from College

Challenge the norm: Whatever you do in college, make sure you eat chocolate bacon at least once. Freshmen year after I transferred to UMass, a high school friend came up to visit me for a concert. We bought chocolate and microwavable bacon from the grocery store that afternoon for late-night snacks. This is the only memory I want to remember from college. When the timing is right and you’re surrounded by good people, CHOCOLATE BACON WILL ELEVATE EVERYTHING. Be creative. Push the norm. Challenge your friends. Challenge yourself. Chocolate bacon is probably a more light-hearted example of this.

Make life fun for yourself: My first lip-sync was a 10 second video of Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl.” I was working as a residential assistant my junior year and my co-RA busted out a gem of a memory. Even though I butchered the whole lip-sync, I enjoyed every second of it. My personal favorite lip-sync song was “Partition” by Beyonce . If you struggle to have fun, you have to stop and really try to make life fun for yourself. If you’re having fun, people will see that and will be attracted to that mindset. Everything will start to fall into place once you start making moments enjoyable for yourself. Make life fun.

Know the difference between yes versus no: Learn to say yes to foreign opportunities and lean toward uncomfortableness but also know when to say no when your time spreads thin. Balance is really important.

Accept: Of others but more importantly of yourself. Everyone comes from a unique background. There are similar backgrounds but no background like your own. You have people who disagree with you and others who support you. Let us remind each other everyday that we all want to be at peace with ourselves. We seek pleasure, enjoyment and sometimes happiness. We need to remember that we all have similar mindsets — caution goals may differ.

Question everything that moves: Growth in curiosity. Learn to question why for every single thing and any single thing. If you’re constantly curious to push others to think, you’ll urge yourself to think more too.

Follow your distraction: Give into your distractions…in moderation. If you’re writing a research paper and are curious of what your friends are doing via social media, then do it! If you want to row a boat instead of doing math homework, do it! However, when the time comes to sit down and do the work you’ve been putting off for weeks you better execute to the best of your ability. Work and life balance is really important today’s era. If you can’t enjoy your life then you can’t work to the best of your ability. When I was in the last few days of my spring break in Colorado, I had a research paper to write and 12 hours to kill before my plane. You would think I would use that time to write the paper but instead I did an hour by hour snapchat story. Totally worth.

Driving up the Rockies to go snowshoeing

Focus: There are so many moments I wish had dropped all my commitments to do something more fun. There were so many moments that I could have ditched commitments and had a lot of fun. If I ditched those commitments I probably would not have graduated in 4 years. Simple. Incentives were so crucial to graduating. Self discipline directly correlates with incentives. If you can focus while dedicating time and effort into an assignment you have no desire to finish, that is self discipline. When there is a benefit to an assignment that isn’t fun to finish in the moment, finishing it is self-discipline. My family has given me an opportunity to graduate college and earn an education. My incentive is everything that comes after. I know there are opportunities waiting,but they won’t come until after I earn my degree. That’s my incentive.

Meet everyone and anyone: I enjoy meeting people. If I have the opportunity to meet new people, I’ll run with it. Perspective is awesome, especially when stories lead to them. People lead to humbleness. My favorite stories involve the hospitality and trust built from personalities. The moment I realized I had to — often — force myself to meet people. I started to talk to coworkers. Then, I started to converse with patrons of a homeless shelter. I proceeded to do obscure activities like volunteer at local farms. My favorite thing to do is going to coffee shops or bakeries and asking the cashier what their favorite dish is. I don’t have any idea what to choose when I walk into a store and I feel like an employee who has been there for 1+ months would be in a better position to know than I would. People are nice if you let them be. We look for the bad and are skeptical of the good. I’m at the point in my life where you can’t hope for the good from others when you don’t give others good.

Find opportunities to try: How do you know you dislike until you try? The biggest example of this was when I applied to be a RA within one of the dormitories. I like to keep to myself often. I’m quiet. I speak when I think is appropriate. I don’t let myself have the opportunity to fail often. I want to fail. I want to get better at the things that keep me from growing. One example is confrontation. I really don’t like confronting. If I can keep to myself then I will. However, as a RA I have to be cognisant of everyone around me. If a resident yells down the hall at 2am on a Sunday night, I have to say something for the sake of others. I have to put others before me and look at the bigger picture. It isn’t just about me. It’s about everyone around me. I push myself into situations that make my life harder. I push myself because I know I’ll grow.

Stay sane: This is by far the most difficult concept that I had to grasp. Yes, there are people who do more than you — whatever “more” means. Yes, there are people smarter than you — in 1 regard or another. Yes, there are people who have less than you — don’t forget this. Yes, your problems are real but don’t dim the magnitude of your peers’ issues. Find solace. Explore the identity that you have and destroy it. Create room to discover others. Discover people. Discover places. Discover stories. Discover what it really means to be alive. Know that I am fortunate. I am fortunate because I have all my limbs. I have all 5 senses. I have no trouble sleeping. I rarely get ill. I have 2 biological parents who love and support me. I have siblings who keep me on a path toward opportunity. I’m surrounded by awesome people. I have a roof over my head. I have the choice to go with or without substanence every moment of everyday. I live comfortably because of opportunity — often times luck. I have no reason to not be sane. If I take care of my mental health, everything will fall into place. I’ll have less time to think about myself and more time to think about others.

Let’s adventure together and we’ll tell our kids the stories

I’m a storyteller, an adventurer, and a food scientist.

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