3 Valuable Lessons I Learned in Year One


Embarking on your university education can be paralyzing as it is a system that calls for newfound independence and responsibility. At times, it gets increasingly competitive, cutthroat even, leaving you in the dust if you are unprepared. Personally, after being in university for a year, I feel that university is a mind game; a game against yourself.

I’m thankful for KR, as it has given me lasting memories, golden friendships, and invaluable guidance. Without KR, I’m not sure how I would be faring in university right now.

As a freshman, I entered university young, dumb, and without knowing what to expect. The late nights spent chilling with seniors and fellow freshmen helped set expectations, gave mental preparation, and provided guidance. I’m not sure where I can look to find that.

It has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows, leaving me often feeling overwhelmed by anything and everything all at once. In place of the heavy textbooks that I used to carry around in school, academic performance, hall commitments and social expectations now weigh heavily on my shoulders. If we could go back in time, I’m sure we can all agree that we would choose having the former. That being said, there were a few lessons I’ve learned, some through my seniors, while others through readings. If you’re a freshman struggling to get by, I hope these lessons would greatly help you. If you’re a fellow senior, I hope that this article can provide some sort of value or even respite.

Regardless of your course, I believe these 3 pointers will help you in your journey:

1. Having a pillar

2. Proper mindset

3. Blinders

Having a pillar

At times, the stress of projects combined with the hecticness that comes with hall commitments might get to you. With deadlines hitting close, tutorials still undone, and lectures to catch up on, some might break down or start to lose strength.

Many residents have often sought comfort in the people next door. When things get overwhelming, a common solution includes ranting to and/or seeking advice from their trusty neighbors next door. Often, they would even laugh and bond over the same complaints. Sometimes, a quick chat over supper at Al Almaans might do the trick.

If possible, my first advice would be to find your own support system – a pillar you can rely on. It can come in the form of the people around you, a personal mantra, or even a quote. For me, it comes in the form of the people around me and having my personal mantra. I find myself turning to my trusty hall mates and neighbors whenever I needed to let my thoughts out or seek different opinions. At the same time, I also find strength in the idea that tough times now will eventually pay off in the future.

A senior of mine once shared a quote with me that he resonated with,

“If God is for us, who can stand against us. - Philippians 4:13”

It was his pillar of faith and support. Each time he was challenged, he turned back to the quote.

Similarly, your pillar can be a quote too.

Being in KR, turning to your neighbors might be easiest and most accessible support system you can have.

Never ever be afraid to seek help and advice when needed!

Proper mindset

Many of us are too afraid to try because we fear embarrassment or failure. I’ve seen it far too many times, and sometimes even in myself.

“I’m too noob for this case comp.”

“I’m scared to try. It looks hard.”

These were common phrases I’ve heard along the way.

And who could blame you? The education system that we grew up in has hardwired us to be ashamed of failure.

But just remember,

“NOBODY GIVES A SHIT ABOUT YOU.”

Everyone is too preoccupied with themselves, so much so that they barely even remember your failures and embarrassments. Fine, some people may talk or laugh about it, but how long can it go for?

We always say things spread fast in KR, but they often do not last long.

Think about it, every time you gossip about someone, how long do you talk about them before moving on to your own troubles and stories?

There is only so much time in a day. With everyone having their own things going on in their lives, ultimately, you’ll realise that the one person we will always be interested in is ourselves. It’s just human nature.

This mindset has helped me to make certain choices in pursuit of my goals, and I have never regretted my decisions.

As cliché as it sounds, you’ll never know if you never try.

I’m sure that we all have regretted not trying something out in our lives, so don’t regret again now.

Blinders

If you know horse racing, you’ll know that each horse has their own blinders. Why?

These blinders are to prevent a horse from seeing. It forces the horse to focus on what’s AHEAD, and on ITSELF, not what’s behind or beside it.

At one point or another in our lives, we will feel lost and unmotivated. Surrounded by people who are seemingly more talented, smarter, or better looking, we try to find our identity — and we make the mistake of using the path of others as a means of valuing our worth.

Always remember,

Comparison is the thief of joy.

There will never be a fair comparison. We are all running our own different paths. Each of our circumstances is different as well. Refrain from comparing portfolios or LinkedIn profiles too often. While comparing might give you short-term motivation, excess comparison simply demotivates you and sets you back.

Just because someone else has better internships or CAP doesn’t make them any superior to you. You are not in any way less than them.

Instead, just keep focusing on yourself and your race. By cutting these unnecessary thoughts out of your head, not only will you be able to focus on what’s truly important, but you will also unlock the mental capacity to handle so much more than you ever thought you could.

Final Thoughts

These three lessons have really pushed me to persevere through the tough and stressful times. I hope it helps you in the same way it did for me as well.

To sum,

Have your pillar with you to have something to fall back on.

Proper mindset helps you to be courageous and take steps out of your comfort zone towards growth.

Blinders will always keep you focused on you and yourself. The only comparison should be against you and you alone.

University is the last phase before heading into the real adulting world. It is the final preparation you have before being thrown into the deep end. I hope that you will be able to use this final phase to prepare mentally, while constantly growing throughout the years you have left in university. The challenges in university are nothing much compared to adulting in the future, so the earlier you start preparing, the more beneficial it would be.

Finally, remember to find your voice and choose whatever makes you happy. Go for what you want in life.

If you don’t go for the things you want, then someone else will gladly take it from you.

We all have our own different path that leads to a happy life, and as we navigate through university, I hope that you will eventually discover and follow that path of yours.

In your own time, of course, because it’s your race to run.

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