My Reflection on College and Definition of Success

Alright, this will be my final sentimental post regarding college. (probably not, I can’t make promises like that because I’m just a sentimental guy!) But as my last finals week comes to a close I want to reflect on my time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as well as give you my definition of success.

College was such a fascinating time and much different from anything I was used to. There was less structure, more independence, and no parents. Although I missed my family quite often, I wouldn’t have wanted college to be any different because I learned so much this way. I thought I grew after my first year of college, which I did, but not as much as I did within this past year and I realized this recently so here’s what happened:

Reflection

I made mistakes, I had my heart broken, I stayed up until 6am, and managed to go to class when all I wanted to do was run to Picnic Point and scream at the top of the lungs. But I also had many successful moments, found love both intimately and with friends, and figured out time management and ways to handle stress and anxiety.

I made friends, I lost friends, I reconnected with friends and I cherished every moment I had with them. I learned about myself, what I want, what I deserve, how to love myself, and how to love others the way they need to be loved. I learned it’s okay to be selfish from time to time but it’s also important to remain selfless.

I learned I don’t always have to be correct but I do have to always be humble and kind (Stop, Tim McGraw!). I learned it’s important to look at the big picture of what’s ahead and not every plan will fit in your time frame; patience is a true virtue and you should learn it along with flexibility. It’s okay to cry but never let the negative thoughts get the best of you because you are better than that.

It’s important to study and be academically successful but you can never let those things get in the way of you living your life and being happy. Lastly, do good. Do good in the world, no matter the scale, do good in your home, your city, your state. Do good things and see the benefits you will receive. This brings up my definition of success.

Success

Everybody has a different way of defining success (by the way this is a great question to ask in job interviews) and my definition of success is judged by my why: the number of peoples’ lives I can make better, even if just for a moment.We are all entitled to the pursuit of happiness and I firmly believe everyone should be as happy as possible, but if I see a person needs help realizing this, I will step in.

My goal in life is to improve peoples’ lives as much as I can whether it’s with laughter, service, or just be the person there for them. Have I been successful in college? I’m going to give a qualified yes. I believe I have influenced the lives of everyone I have interacted with here on campus in a positive way, but I will always feel I could do more. I would like to take back the bad times and replace them with good ones, but I can’t, I can only live with them, learn from them, and move on. But I wouldn’t want it any other way because every failure provides me a chance to grow and try again.

Am I successful? Sure. Can I do better? Yes. Will I do better? Absolutely, it’s my life goal after all and I will pursue this in all aspects of life as I move forward. My advice to everyone reading, take the time to appreciate everything around you, it flies by faster than you could possibly imagine, and also, figure out how you define success. This will dictate your motives, your interactions with others, and your orientation on this journey called life. And now I will leave you with this quote to think a little.

“If you’re not making somebody else’s life better, then you’re wasting your time,”-Will Smith

 

 

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A Tale of the Death of Cargo Shorts

The weather is finally getting warmer out (well warmish, I’m not really sure what’s going on with the weather because one day I’ll be drenched in sweat opening a jar of pickles and the next I’m putting on my snuggie and refusing to go outside) but spring and summer are coming! This means shorts weather and I want to share a very personal and heart breaking time in my life: the day I learned cargo shorts were not “in” anymore.

I know, I know, a moment of silence for the moderately heavy, extremely useful, excessively pocketed shorts many young men once donned while growing up. I too was like you just last year, what happened to change my mind? A combination of things, a big influencer were my roommates who are in a frat here on campus and kept telling me nobody wears them outside of high school.

Not me, but R.I.P. shorts

The second time came when I was sitting in our Residence Life Office while I was an RA last year and a student was talking with an advisor about fashion. I was just minding my business doing my work when I hear them both agree cargo shorts are uncool now. At this point I look down at my sad little fifth and sixth pockets drooping by my thighs and decided I needed new shorts. Of course I finished my work before they were done talking and I had to take my walk of shame past them.

Pause for a moment, I want to emphasize I’m not anti-cargo shorts, I actually have a deep love for them, and if you still choose to wear them I support you! You go Glen Coco!

Now back to the cargo shorts. Why are people so against them? Some people just don’t care for them aesthetically; too many pockets, they feel weird, and some don’t like shorts going all the way to the knee. Hey, that’s fine, I get it, go find the shorts meant for you. Others just view them as a thing of your past and I guess I get that too.

College is a transition phase between high school and adult life and you will pick up a lot of different things and that could be style. This involves leaving those old cargo shorts at home and buying a new pair of chinos or whatever else shorts are called without cargo pockets. To me, when I stopped wearing cargo shorts it meant I was transitioning to the adult world, which doesn’t mean adults don’t wear them still today, have you ever taken a ride through a rural Wisconsin town? But in my college town, and future place of employment, it symbolized letting go of some old habits and adopting newer, more professional ones.

What my roommates wanted

Now that doesn’t mean I don’t still get to go home and put on those bad boys from time to time and act like a teenager again, but I did realize it was time to let go of some things from the past.

But even with all that being said I still don’t get the appeal. Cargo shorts, even with more material than regular shorts, are less expensive! (Don’t even get me started on Chubbies that’s just too much thigh) Additionally, they provide maximum air flow and optimize your storage capabilities. I sweat through my shorts now more than I ever did with cargos!

Alright, my rant is over. The big takeaways are wear what you are comfortable with, if you like rockin’ cargos, go for it, do you, but also realize college is a transition in your life. You will pick up new habits and lose old ones. This could start with cargos but always remember, home is always where you can wear your cargo shorts.

 

Why Having a Job in College is Important

I bet many of you are asking yourselves, “Is this going to be a sentimental post again?” The answer is yes, yes it is, but that isn’t the only reason for this post. I want to share why it’s good to have a job in college and what it provides you.

Okay, first things first, what obvious thing does a job provide you? Let’s say it together, MONEY! Yes, that’s right, a job provides money which you can spend on other things, what a concept. This was the main reason I was looking for a job when I began wrapping up my first semester of college. Like any other college freshman I wanted to get acclimated to college before I began looking for a job, but I quickly discovered things were expensive here!

You know how it goes, you make new friends and they want to explore the city so you go out to eat a few days a week here or there. You realize you forgot something you only kind of needed back home so you pick it up at a local store anyway because why not. Then you just start to impulse buy and sooner or later, BOOM! You’re broke. It may not be the same case for everyone but this was my case and with zero income to balance out my expenses I realized I needed a job.

That’s when a friend recommended I look into the Wisconsin Historical Society Library. I figured why not check it out…I fell in love. This place was beautiful, they worked with your class schedule, and the staff (This is where I get choked up writing this) the staff was wonderful. Laura, my boss, has basically been another mother to me and I hope to keep in contact with her after I graduate. I’ve worked here for just about three years now, with one year taken off to be an RA, and I’m so happy I did because it did so many things for me, other than money, like help with time management.

Time Management

Working at the Historical Society wasn’t like working at other libraries on campus. At other libraries students can do their homework while at the desk, at the Historical Society that was a no-go. We work on projects here in-between patrons, which some could be more tedious than others, but overall they were good. How did this help time management?

Since I wasn’t able to do my homework while at work I had to plan accordingly for the times I could do my homework. This involved kicking my butt in high gear and allocating more time to study between classes and less time hanging out with friends. With that being said I always made sure to include time to spend with friends because you all know that’s important to me.

Some people may not like the idea that you have to do these projects and sacrifice study time, but to me that was a good thing because it also allowed me time to decompress.

Decompress

Think of it with my mind: how stressful is it to go from class to class getting bombarded with information and then go home and continue to bombard yourself with information? To me that’s just too much and you need time to decompress, find your bearings again and then resume studying.

Many people aren’t the best at doing this for themselves so they just live in the circle of stress. You need this time to relax because you gain better focus then. What was nice about my position, as well as many others where you can’t do homework, is you get that time to stop thinking about school for a little bit and then unwind and decompress from the day. Then later you can get home with a more refreshed mind and get your work done.

(I want to share another memory/story because that’s who I am. I started working at the Historical Society in January 2013 and it seemed every day I worked it would snow. Not blizzard snow but nice, appealing to the eye snow and I had this one spot I loved to go to and just watch the snow fall for a minute in our north pamphlets. There was nothing special about the view because the part of campus it faces is always under construction, but it was a secluded area where I could watch the snow fall momentarily at night with the lights shining down on campus. It was just peaceful. This scene always calmed me down if I was having a rough day and I’m going to miss it.)

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Nothing special, but it was special to me

Okay, sorry, that’s over, my next point I want to make is a job during campus allows you to see yourself grow, even if you don’t think you are.

Growth

My first semester at the Historical Society was filled with uncertainty: am I doing this right, where does this go, who is that guy and why are the doors ringing? I thought I was making an utter fool of myself but I guess I wasn’t because they let me come back. The next year I was given more trust by working night shifts alone and I could see my confidence rise. After my year off I returned because I missed Laura and the work and that’s when I knew I had truly grown.

As a freshman I probably still would have been reluctant to cover someone’s shift or take on more responsibility, but as a senior I wasn’t afraid of these things anymore. Through my work there, and as an RA, I could see my confidence grow in customer service and with handling a new task. It has been a humbling experience to realize I am getting older and maturing professionally.

My time here is coming to a close and it deeply saddens me as I type this but I know I’ll never stray far and always be able to come back and feel that magic again in the winter time. Thank you, Laura, for everything, I look forward to our sports talks and get-togethers in the future.