I ended my sophomore year of college on a Thursday morning after leaving a final I no doubt had bombed. I wasn’t fazed; all I really wanted at the moment was to sleep and detox my body of the ungodly amount of caffeine I had consumed that week alone.
The walk back to my room was a mellow one, with a half-dead campus under a very fitting overcast. The usual mulling over wrongly bubbled answers and whatnot was replaced this time by a sinking feeling. It was a heavier feeling this year since, well, being halfway done with college is a very different feeling from having 3 years left.
Although freshman year was definitely not a walk in the park, I remembered at least having room to stroll and figure myself out. Yet since my second year began, the pressure of finding and sticking to a path has not once let up. With 2 years left until the real world hits, I figure now would be an appropriate time to look back on the changes (not only in my GPA, but also) in my mindset.
The film program starts junior year at UCLA and banking on the thought that I would get admitted if I applied, I planned to have a “let’s just get this over with” mentality for my first two years of college. I was an angsty, ambitious teenager (still am) who wanted his ideas put to life on the big screen. Today, I sit here writing this, having changed my major twice and turned 180 degrees, heading towards a completely different direction than I imagined two years ago.
A lot has changed and nothing went as planned.
There were a lot of things I wrote down for my New Years resolutions, both at the start of 2014 and 2015, that have not been checked off or kept. There were a lot of non-class-related books I brought to college hoping to enrich myself with and now bring home untouched and slightly desaturated from the dust that has gathered on them.
Maybe it’s because I have an ENFP personality and I read somewhere that we always set too many goals and expectations for ourselves. I do keep a ton of notebooks and notes scattered online and in physical copies. The unmet goals accumulate and I lose a little bit of self-esteem each time. Yet looking back now, I’m glad I didn’t spend so much time trying to follow my self-imposed structure.
Whether I took a turn for the better or the worse in those two years, who knows. But I did learn the importance of several things and I can sum those up as follows: confidence, balance, and seeking help.
Exuding confidence to others in social situations is a good thing to have but I don’t mean that. It’s just as important in my opinion to be confident to yourself and the decisions you make. I liked something, I went for it. I was curious in another thing, I tried it. Before coming to college, I would have never expected myself to try barista-ing, dancing or most of all, computer science. I went through 3 official majors (and dozens more in my head) and every switch had been a train wreck for me. But after every decision I made, in the back of my head, I at least had the slightest hint of confidence that I would make it work in the end. That’s what I mean.
I have my reasons for choosing not to pursue film as a career. And by pursuing a more technical career, I have been doing less creative work recently. But I’m confident I will make it work in one way or another and keep that creative drive in my life. This segues to my second point —
This was another important concept to me, especially after being exposed to so many new areas upon leaving the bubble that was high school. Balancing new and old interests was one thing but another challenge was to balance social and professional life.
Being in computer science, I am a firsthand witness to everyone around me hopping on internships and looking ahead to one day work at Google, Facebook, Microsoft or companies of the like. They dream of becoming yuppies, wanting to enter the real world ASAP. I’ve been sucked into that dream as well yet at the same time, I still need to breathe and relax with friends for sanity purposes.
Finding time to balance social life with future job prep was tough but I unexpectedly found that I could blend the two at times. I joined two CS-related clubs at my school this year and met some of my favorite people in both. It was relieving to break my previously held notion that a college organization would be 100% professional.
Last but not least was the value of seeking help. I was that guy in high school who would be in a group project of 4 people but willingly assign most of the work to myself. So personally, asking for help was also an exercise of trust. It felt good to do less work first of all but most of all, it was good to share a struggling task with others. I’m stating the obvious here but this realization was quite new to me actually.
I wanted to start blogging, or just writing in general, and I figured reflecting on my half-finished college career would be a good place to start.
The film program at my school has since modified its curriculum to start at freshman year instead of junior year. I wonder sometimes how different my college experience would have turned out if this change came earlier. I did most of the things I hoped I wouldn’t do in college and somehow everything unfolded okay.
TLDR: trust yourself and trust others