Set for Success in Year 4

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Happy Friday, because it’s been a long week. After the last first week of my undergraduate career—hopefully—I can already see the time counting down in front of me. While I’m an English major, this quarter I’m getting more into my minor classes and it’s quite different from what I’m used to doing. 

I mean, I usually study English and literature and meanings and write essays… Now I’m working in Illustrator, learning the Adobe software, and getting a kick start in digital art.

Plus doing a good amount of fiction writing in the process.

All of it got me thinking, I’m coming to the end of my undergraduate career and this is a good time as any to throw what I’ve learned out to all of you—because I’ve made my fair share of mistakes and mishaps. Maybe you will all get a chance to learn from them and the lessons I found along the way.

So here we go:

7 ways to make the most out of a new beginning

Don’t hesitate

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A lot of times, when we’re getting into something we haven’t done before whether it’s a promotion at a company or a new school year, we hold ourselves back a little bit. I mean, it’s hard not to when you don’t know what’s coming next. But that’s okay. If you have a chance to learn or get lunch with the boss, do it. If your professor seems to single you out in class, you’d better get on it and know your stuff then. This even goes for meeting new people and throwing all your cards on the table–if you’re going to do something, do it all the way. Do not hesitate. Give it all you’ve got. 

Invest in yourself

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This goes along with the first one, you only get out as much as you put in. So if you’re trying to succeed, set yourself up for it. Do your work early, do your best in the time you have, don’t be afraid of testing the boundaries of what you know. There are only so many ways to learn and sometimes you can surprise yourself. If there is someone around that you just need to know so you can pick their brain or learn from them, go for it! Networking is a part of everything we do once we get past high school, make the most of it. 

Ask Questions

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I know when I walk into new things, I always worry about doing something wrong or not knowing how to be perfect. But the thing is, part of a job is learning as you go; you’re never going to be taught everything you need to know. Just like the rest of our lives, some things are best learned through experience. If you don’t know how to get an assignment done and can’t problem solve on your own, ask. There is a reason there will always be someone who knows a little bit more than we do. Why not use that?

Be shameless

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Now I put this one in here with a grain of salt—be shameless, but in the way that you’re willing to learn and do what it takes to be the best you can be. That doesn’t mean wiping out your moral compass, stepping on other people, or compromising your integrity in the process. You know your own boundaries, you know how you usually work. Own it and do your thing.

Know your potential

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Even when we work really hard for something, a lot of us have a tendency to downplay just how good we really are. Don’t. If you get hired or chosen or decide to pursue something for yourself, have some faith. Sure, we make wrong turns and risky decisions sometimes. But none of us will get anywhere if we’re so busy being humble or insecure that we can’t find the space to grow from there. You are the only person you will always have. You may as well be your number 1 advocate. 

Use your resources

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There is a reason schools have counseling centers or financial aid offices, just like all jobs have a bosses and HR departments. Use them if you need them. After 4 years in college, I’ve found that some people don’t like using the resources around them because they can feel like handouts or as if they can’t be on the same level as everyone else… I understand that, but I also understand that the resources are there and you’re probably already paying for it. Success isn’t all raw talent, athletes need to train and students need to study. Both use resources to get all that done, so why can’t you? You deserve the best for yourself, this is simply setting up for success.

Ask for help

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When in doubt, ask someone. I remember my first few jobs, I ran into so many questions from how to cancel a transaction to where the break room was. And I was almost always afraid to ask because I felt like I should have known. In hindsight, that makes no sense as we all only know things because we are either taught or we can teach ourselves. Some things can’t be self-taught. Save yourself the anxiety, time, and probably discomfort; just ask. I know as a senior in my workplace, I’ve come to train a lot of newbs and first time retail students; I would much rather someone ask me if something is okay or how to do it than have them do it wrong. Then that’s more work for me and mistakes that might come back for them later. Help me help you. Ask for what you need.


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It’s year 4 and even though there are only seven things on this list, I’m sure I could make a much longer one if that’s really what you want. But these seven, I feel like they’ve really helped me grow and push my own limits in college. There are only so many ways to make the most of something and these are some of the ones that I know quite well.

If you’re on a journey in something new, testing boundaries, or just pushing yourself a bit, maybe one of these will help you find a balance in that success.

I know they have for me. And hey, if you’ve got any favorites to share, feel free to put those in the comments because I would love to hear it. Otherwise, happy Friday.

Have a lovely weekend. 

Welcome to Year 2: Plan for Success

My sophomore year here at Cal Poly officially began yesterday morning and I can already tell that it’s going to be quite an… experience. Quick summary of my two days of class: Ran to catch the bus three times (only for it to be late), started work at the University Store, emailed far too many professors about crashing classes, denis-bayer-97398went from 8 units to 20 in three days, joined a large theatre lecture class made up mostly of freshmen, ran into a wonderful amount of familiar faces, and experienced my first 8-10pm class.

This is going to be a year of firsts and a whole lot of learning.

There’s something surprisingly comforting about not being new to the whole college thing this year— I’m more comfortable than I thought I would be just having been here already, whether I felt like I knew what I was doing or not. I guess there’s something to be said about knowing that there are trials ahead, but at least having an idea of what to expect. That’s the difference between being a freshman and being a sophomore, I actually know how rough this can be.

I also know how fantastic this can be.

As it is with so much in life, the key to getting it all right is balance. I can’t spend all my free time at work because I still need to study. I can’t spend all my free time studying because I have committed to a job. And I also can’t only go to class and do those two things because, well, this is college— a social life is somewhat necessary for both sanity and survival.

So maybe the question is how do any of us find that balance between everything?

First of all,ben-duchac-66002 your people are so important. Not only do they keep you in check to say “hey, we haven’t seen you around lately,” reminding you that there are people who want you, but they also to check in on you when you forget to do it yourself. With a world heading towards higher productivity and more time working, we often forget to take breaks for ourselves or step back from things and remember to breathe. Our people are always important to pull us back when we fall off course.

Rule number two: Make a plan. We’re all busy people, I get that, and it can be hard to keep track of everything going on in our lives. So make some plans, get a planner going, and mark down some due dates. The key to this part is organization— the faster you get more organized, the easier it is to figure out all the information and to do lists in your head. At least for me, I know that when I’ve got a lot on my plate, it’s at least nice to see on paper that it’s possible to do it all. A little confidence boost never hurt, even when it just comes from everything fitting in one box on my calendar.

Rule number three: Failure to succeed is not the same as failure. Does that make sense? Let’s put this in lettered terms— there is a large margin between passing a class with an A and failing one with a D. If you’re giving something your best shot, asking for help when you need it, and doing what you can to get to where you want to be, that’s all you can ask of yourself. andreas-kind-338509Your best isn’t always going to get you an A, not when there are so many other things to focus on and remember. Lucky for us, a C is still passing. And sometimes, that’s the best we can do. Find a way to be okay with that, and if you can’t, then find a way to make your best a little bit better.

And finally, rule number four: You come first. If your body is telling you something, if you’re constantly tired or have a hard time getting through the day, something has to change. Burnout is very possible, both in work and in education, and it takes a toll on everything you do from your relationships to your sleeping habits. Even when it seems you can’t slow down or you have no other option but the pace you’re currently going at, there is always another way. It just might not be ideal. Before you even get there, it’s best to avoid burnout altogether by taking the time you need for yourself every day, not skipping meals, and definitely not skipping sleep. But it’s not always easy to stick to that, even with the best intentions. So if you fall a little behind on self-care, take whatever steps you need to in order to get back to good health. For college students, that could even mean a quick trip home or dropping a class— do what you need to do. And don’t forget about your people, the good ones are always there to help you out. All you need to do is ask.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month and in the midst of the natural disasters and recovery efforts we see around the world, I am also reminded that some allef-vinicius-230238tragedies are those we don’t see. From the American Psychological Association back in 2013, 41.6% of college students struggled with anxiety, 36.4% with depression, and 35.8% with relationship problems. These three top issues can all lend a hand into impacting the wellbeing of students and if ignored for too long, they could become too large for one person to handle. I say this to point out that these percentages are not small— if you are a part of it, that is okay. You are not alone and you do not have to feel like you are either. Like I said earlier, ask for help and do what you need to do to get yourself to a good place, you deserve that much.

This world is a beautiful place and this life is a beautiful thing, at least I know it can be. So as I go into year two, I am going to do my best to embody the beauty, even amidst the turmoil of getting my life together. And hey, if I’m lucky, maybe running after busses can be a part of it too. Until next week everyone, have a wonderful weekend and here’s to the beauty 🙂