Reflecting on the Past 3 ½ Years
by Jessica Au
As I round out my penultimate semester at Cal, I’m filled with memories of the past, longing for what could have been this last year, and worry for the future. But what speaks most to me during this time are definitely the memories I hold dear. The study sessions, the long nights working on a class project, the fun game and dinner nights with friends — it makes me so sad knowing that some of these will never happen again. But this reflection isn’t meant to bore you with my recollections of the past. Instead, I’ll share some of the important lessons I’ve learned in these past few years.
1.Find your people.
When I’m asked what is my favorite thing about Cal, my answer — besides mentioning the campus — is the people that I have met and the friends I have made. I think it’s crucial for every person to be able to find their niche community and a group of people that genuinely cares about them. At Cal, there are so many students here that it might be difficult or intimidating to find people you vibe with. Not everyone you meet will result in a friendship, and that’s completely okay. You can look for community in a lot of places, such as in clubs and organizations, classes, and the people you live with, to name a few. Someone somewhere will appreciate you for who you are and support your successes. Someone somewhere will be the one to initiate a hangout or a call and genuinely want to get to know you. You might not meet this person or this community today, tomorrow, or even this semester, but if you keep looking I know you’ll find them.
2. Have a study group.
Some people are very easily self-motivated and have great self-discipline to work on all of their assignments and projects without others. If that’s you, total props to you and your work ethic. However, if you’re not like that, I have found it to be super helpful to do some work in a group, where you can explain confusing concepts to one another and learn from each other. This is especially helpful right before exams. Being able to solidify your understanding and also having others to keep you accountable for studying is an amazing thing. Of course, it’s not always possible or necessary to organize a study group, but when it happens it’s a good time.
3. Don’t deny yourself opportunities.
I am extremely guilty of this point. Whether it be a job, a club, a competition, or anything of that sort, I so easily dismiss the possibility of me applying or signing up for it. I usually at least look at the description to just entertain the idea of me trying for this new opportunity. But when it comes time to actually put in the work to make it a reality, I shy away from it, thinking that it could never be me. I assure myself that even if I tried I would fail, and that would just be a waste of time.
But how do I know that? I don’t. I don’t know if I actually will fail. And if I do, so what? Isn’t life all about trying and failing until we succeed? Where are all my determination and motivation?
I’m not sure either, but you shouldn’t be like me. If you want something, you should go for it. Even if you don’t get it this time, it’s a learning experience. And who knows? Maybe you’ll get it next time.
This point also includes asking for help. If you don’t get the help you need, you’ll be denying yourself the potential of what could have been.
4. Fill your college career with a myriad of experiences.
Following up on the last point, a large part of the “college experience” is figuring out who you are and who you want to be. I definitely don’t have the latter down, but as for the former, I’m glad that I was able to do all of the activities and experiences that I did these past few years.
Just as an example, I have been a SWE Officer for the past 2 years, and during this time I’ve been an officer for the Outreach, Corporate, and Social sectors. In each sector I’ve interacted with different groups of people and gained new lessons with each new role. Just from SWE alone, I’ve had so many experiences that have helped shape not only my college experience but also who I am as a person.
A lot of my college experience has been me becoming more comfortable with who I am, and gaining confidence in myself. I’m still a work in progress, but I’m glad to have all these people and experiences to help shape my journey. I’m so grateful for this community and for the opportunities SWE has given me. Thanks for all the laughs, swag, dinners, and memories.
Wishing you all the best with your very own college journey, and I hope that you too can find a community within SWE. ❤