With the end of my time at the UW approaching, I’d like to pass on some advice to any prospective or current students. I still believe there’s no one “right” way to do college because you can truly optimize the path that’s right for you.
I joined The Daily two years ago, cutting my teeth on now-embarrassing opinion articles and the occasional news feature. I didn’t join out of a deep love for journalism or because I had any particular talent in reporting. I took the development class because my life was a mess, and I needed something stable to anchor it.
At the time, I was switching majors every quarter and dragging my GPA down with difficult weed-out classes. It’s not unusual for those first couple of years to be exploratory, especially for students like me who didn’t have their major set in stone. But I had no real idea of what I wanted to get out of college. My anxiety boiled as I watched quarters go by with no real sense of direction, until I experienced my first panic attacks late sophomore year. The fears of disappointing my family and the envy toward my peers who I saw excelling felt suffocating at times.
At that point I realized that something needed to change fundamentally or I would have to drop out entirely. What I finally began to understand was that I could still set plans and goals even when I didn’t have a sense of the big picture in sight. What I needed most was somewhere to start, an anchor that the rest of my plans could build on.
Committing to literally almost anything — whether it’s writing for The Daily, hosting a show on Rainy Dawg Radio, or even joining an RSO — gives you that crucial anchor. Sure, I was still floundering, but I was getting up early to go to an interview rather than sleeping in until noon and playing video games for the rest of the day. I wasn’t thinking about journalism at the time; I was focusing on finding the motivation just to stay in school.
When I had that anchor to my day, that reason to wake up and get out the door, it slowly became easier to face the terrifying task of filling the other 16 hours.
My last year at the University of Washington has been more exciting, challenging, and transformative than the previous three years combined. It’s not because I had some Disney-esque transformation and found my true calling. I didn’t get here by looking deep inside my soul and divining my true purpose in life. I just picked a direction and hit the gas.
If you find yourself feeling aimless and adrift in the sea of possibilities at the UW, my suggestion is to find something to anchor your days. After three years, I finally feel like I belong here. You deserve to feel that way too.