“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” (T.S. Eliot)
University is a time of (re-)building. It is a chance to engineer your life the way you desire. It is an opportunity to realize the vision of your life. None of you should waste your university years by being something that you are not. This is also not a prolonged vacation period to be spent for pleasure and indulgence. University is a monster to be conquered, a quest to be completed. It is imperative that each one of you gets involved in various activities, clubs, societies etc. to be able to experience the true beauty of university lifestyle and to earn your success. None of you should accept the lonely, sad, unfulfilling life at university with so many opportunities to make history.
For some of you, this is a chance to leave your old life behind and start fresh. You don’t need to continue being the person you were in the secondary school and you can change what you are – you can create your new life and transform your future. The mistakes made in the past can be forgotten and all regrets silenced – this is your time now. It does not matter whether you are a first-year or a final-year student – the opportunities are always there; there is always time to change the course of your life.
Now is the perfect time to decide who you are and who you want to be. Forget about the fear that used to make your decisions for you; ignore the insecurities that once dictated your actions; disregard self-doubt that minimizes your abilities and your potential. Recognize your talents and be bold enough to admit that you are important. Dare to see yourself from a new perspective, the one where your dreams and actions are congruent. Create a new role for your life where you are what you want to be with everything else pushed into the background.
University will be the biggest challenge you have faced in your lives and I am not even talking about the academic side. As a finalist I can partially confirm that, in most cases, the friendships you develop in the first weeks (or the first year) will be strong and will last throughout your university years and beyond. Therefore, it is true that it becomes harder to make strong friendships as the years go on and the advice to meet as many people as you can as a fresher is absolutely valuable and helpful. People with good social skills find university much easier and tend to have more fun. So, the traits of your personality can determine the impact you will make and the life you will create from the first days. The more positive of a start you have, the easier your consequent weeks and years will be. Therefore, the shy and quiet ones may experience more struggle and greater challenges. However I would like to ask you to remember, that at any given point you are able to change the life you have created. You can challenge your current circumstances and create the friendships you want; conquer your fears and put yourself out there – you only need to want it and start making different day-to-day decisions.
Close your eyes and think of the legacy you will not be making just because you didn’t dare to do what you wanted; you were too scared to fail; you said not today but you never committed to doing the task. The thought of standing on the graduation podium with all your family and friends there is a hallmark of the university experience. But what if, on that day, you have more regrets than triumphs. What if all the events and opportunities you missed out on come back to haunt you on the day that is supposed to be one of the happiest in your life? It’s a truly terrifying thought.
If you are a fresher, the graduation seems to be very far away for you but I can confirm that it is much closer than you think. You will not notice how quickly it will creep up on you and you will be apprehended by the magnitude of doubt and uncertainty in your life. However, it is natural to feel and be lost, that is even expected. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that other students in your lecture theatre know what they are doing – more-often-than-not they don’t and that is okay. Don’t expect to be able to figure your life out and don’t expect magic. University is not a place of miracles where all the life’s mysteries and answers are revealed. From my experience, you will have more questions and fewer answers than you had before. The best course of action you should take is to live one day at a time and make the most out of it; make proactivity one of your core values. Don’t wait for the good opportunities and experiences to come to you and rather try and make them yourself. Your course will only last a few years so, please, don’t miss out on the fun you should be enjoying because your fears, insecurities or any other reasons are stopping you. Whatever challenges you may face or the (personal) circumstances you will encounter can’t be allowed to derail you from your goals and aspirations.
Be selfish. Be ruthless. Be the best you can be.