Column by Dylan Doyle, contributing writer
Once upon a time, at a Murray State Honor’s Day long passed, I was a high school senior sitting in a college classroom, listening to a group of students from the Honors Program talk about the college experience. We heard all of the typical advice–go to class, talk to your professors during their office hours–but the words of one girl have stayed with me for years now.
She was short with a black pixie haircut, and that’s all I remember about her. I wish I knew her name, her major or any other information about her. All I have is the profound advice that she gave to a room full of prospective students who were about to start their first solo journey into the real world.
“You need seven hours of sleep and at least two meals a day. You need to hydrate and exercise. No one is going to do it for you. Remember that you are a person.”
One of the most important lesson you learn in college is that you are a person. You are not a robot cranking out passing grades and projects and mechanically working through sleep deprivation and hunger.
Those of you who have been around the block a few semesters know what I am talking about. Every fall and spring, a new class of freshman appears on campus thinking they can be supersoldier students, taking 19 or more credit hours while juggling clubs, sports, Greek life and what-have-you. It never works for very long, and it’s often these students who rack up frequent flyer miles at Health Services.
No one is going to do it for you. Your friends are awesome, your family is awesome, your roommate is awesome (but in fact, for most of you, at least two of these things are not true), but they are not you. They do not have the same vested interest in your well-being as you do, and you should not expect them to.
This is not to say your support system is unimportant, of course. Whom you choose to surround yourself with also directly impacts your college career. However, no one will advocate as hard for your needs as you. There’s a reason your parents are always saying things like “Take care of yourself.”
We are coming down to the end of another semester. Statistically, it is very likely that some of you will not return next spring, often because you ran your physical and mental health into the ground. College is hard, but it is impossible if you don’t have anyone in your corner. Your most powerful ally, and often your greatest enemy, is yourself.
Let me give you a heads-up on the most painful and crucial lesson you will learn during your time at university. It’s something you have to learn from experience, but remember these words so you will be able to recognize it when it happens.
People come into your life, and people leave. Sometimes you leave them, for good or bad reasons. Your family will change, and your friends will change. One day you will wake up, and your significant other will be gone. It’s the sad fact of life. Nothing stays the same.
Call it pessimism if you wish, but a future full of self-care seems pretty bright to me.
At the end of the day, you have to be able to count on yourself. You will find that your friendships, your relationships with family and your romantic life all fall into place if you have a solid foundation to build them on.
Caring about others more than yourself is not humility, and being at the center of your own universe is not vanity. In the immortal words of Cristina Yang, they are not the sun. You are.
You have to be your own person.