My W&L: Jok Asiyo ’16
“College is a place where you will grow no matter how you go through it. The only thing you control is who you grow to be.”
Imagine waking up one morning in a brand new bed with brand new clothes on. Then you realize the surprises haven’t ended, because you have a fresh haircut and a huge pile of textbooks next to you. Confused but curious, you start to wonder if this is the end of the surprises. Finally, while you’re still shaking off the morning cobwebs, people you’ve never met before start coming in and out of your room. Each person that steps in is offering you something–information sessions with some of the top companies in the U.S., opportunities to volunteer, chances to visit other countries, the unique experience of starting your own club, varsity and intramural sports teams, and many other things that you just can’t hear through all the chatter. All this is happening while you’re trying to go meet some new people to help guide you through this foreign place that you’ve stepped into. Well that’s college–specifically W&L.
In short, college is overwhelming. No matter what institution of higher learning you attend, you realize that very quickly. The word itself usually has a negative connotation attached to it, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Overwhelming can be a good thing, as it has been for me and many others who have signed their name in Lee Chapel, committing to the student run Honor System.
Through my three years, I’ve learned a lot–from the simplest things like making a grilled cheese sandwich in a toaster, to thinking about life beyond myself. Internships, organizations, studies abroad, varsity sports, and numerous professors and peers have taught me the following things in their own unique ways:
- College is hard.
College is supposed to be hard. One of the first things Coach Hutchinson, the varsity basketball coach, said to me during my freshman year was: “College basketball is supposed to be harder than high school basketball.” That has shown up in everything I’ve done at W&L. The classes you take, choices you make, and responsibilities you have are more difficult than the ones you had in high school. It also always reminds me that I’m here for a reason, and that’s to push myself to new limits everyday. If it were easy it wouldn’t be worth it. That’s why college is hard, especially at W&L–because it’s worth it.
- Embracing conflict is the only real way to resolve it.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to please everyone, and at some point in everyone’s life there will be a conflict that is completely unavoidable. This is no time to run, or panic. This is the time to shine. When problems arise, greet them with open arms and find a way to resolve them, however you can. Learning to resolve conflicts will only get better with time, patience and practice. Being a Resident Advisor teaches me that on a monthly basis. With every new situation I handle, I get to see my own growth, while contributing to someone else’s.
- Criticism hurts, but if you learn from it, you’ll learn to love it.
No one wants to lie, but no one likes hearing the truth when it hurts either. When you become open and willing to accept the criticism that others give you, you can become a better person because you’ll know what you’ve been lacking. It’s impossible to fix something you aren’t aware of, so criticism, if taken the right way, can be your best friend.
Go out and take a class you’ve never heard of. Go to a restaurant that looks nice, but you don’t know how the food is. Go to a country that you’ve only seen in movies. Go on the road trip your friends have been talking about for years. Ask the questions you think are dumb. At the very least smile at someone who might not smile back. College is full of surprises. Unlike the scenario described in the beginning. you don’t just wake up with them all. You have to go find them. When I came to Washington and Lee I pretty much hated English, reading, and anything literature related, until I tried an English class out for fun. Now, I’m a creative writing minor and my Kindle is priceless, so I guess that speaks for itself.
- Search for your passion and pursue it when you find it
Do some soul searching and find what really makes you tick. Find a reason to get up every Monday morning with excitement. College is a place where you will grow no matter how you go through it. The only thing you control is who you grow to be.
In closing, do what you love, and love what you do, for at the end of the day, your happiness is dependent on no other but you.