What I Wish I'd Known
Published: Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Updated: Thursday, December 15, 2011 00:12
Every senior feels like he or she has the right and/or responsibility to dispense the wisdom gained through four years. I'm no different.
As just one semester remains before my release into a world with fewer acronyms per acre, I'd like a soap box.
Your body is talking to you. Listen to it. As much as you think that staying up until 3 a.m. four nights in a row is an academically responsible decision, you can't sustain life that way. You have to sleep regularly, eat and drink regularly, exercise regularly, and relax regularly. If you don't, your body will quickly find ways to communicate its displeasure. Know your body.
You never have to be alone in your troubles. As a wise headmaster once said, "Help will always be given at [Furman] to those who ask for it." Furman has a fantastic community of professors, deans, ministers, counselors, doctors, FUPO, residence life staff, and many others who are here for you. You are only alone until you share your need. I guarantee that if you communicate your concern, whatever it is, you will find people who will advise you, listen to you, encourage you, and sometimes give you a swift kick in the right direction.
Have mercy again and again. Have mercy on yourself: You are not perfect, and you never will be. You will never make a 100 on every test. You will not complete all your reading for every class. You may knock every darn bowl from the salad bar. You will make mistakes that you deeply regret. You will inescapably hurt people you love.
Have mercy on others. The people around you will never be perfect. Your roommate will forget to clean the bathroom…again. Your team for the group project will not do everything the way you want them to. Your friend group will sometimes devolve into blubbering drama. And inescapably, people who love you will hurt you.
Forgiveness isn't the same as excusal, and destructive behaviors from yourself or anybody else should be discussed with a professional. Walk forward in the knowledge that love doesn't require perfection. Just as others love you for who you are even in your imperfection, love yourself and others.
The world needs your way of thinking, speaking, and being—and everybody else's. You'd be a lame version of anybody else, but you're uniquely equipped to be you. Dare to speak the words that matter most to you. Dare to resist the norms seeking to define your life for you. Invite and welcome others as they do the same. Risk the vulnerability of shared authenticity.
Give your life to others. You'll get it back transformed in a way you couldn't have imagined. In the process, you might change somebody else's life as well. Tutor a kid. Sit with someone who is dying. Build a house. Hold a sobbing friend. Take a dog at the Humane Society for a walk. The possibilities are endless. Find your bliss where the world needs you most.