“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
I don’t remember exactly where I saw this – maybe in the book The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch? – but I do remember having scribbled it on a post-it note and sticking it on my bookholder that sat in front of me as I sat at my desk for long, monotonous hours last semester. I really love this quote because I feel like it resonates with me on a fundamental level. College has been so incredible in many, many ways. Two of those ways are my academic opportunities and the friendships I have made. These two facets of my life have transformed me just within the past 10 months. I truly think both are related to the quote mentioned above.
Coming from a small, rural high school, I was indeed terrified of the academic monster that was college. I am actually somewhat resentful now for the previous students I had heard describe college as basically an obstacle that cannot be tackled, despite the effort. Many students from my high school spoke of how college was exponentially harder than high school, and they certainly emphasized the lack of preparation that Lewis County offered for someone pursuing a college degree. The truth is that they were just passing off their own disappointments on the very teachers that spent many years believing in them. In my year of college, I have learned that yes, college is definitely way more difficult than high school. But it is designed that way. It is supposed to be. College is a place that trains intellectuals to enter the world and apply what they have learned – it is not created for the same purpose that high school is. So yes, you do have to work harder. A lot harder, but to me (and I could quite possibly be the only one in this boat), the work is worth it. The work you do in college has a purpose and will transform the way you think and view the world. As far as college being a monster than cannot be tamed, this is untrue and I really wish students would stop scaring high school students by continuously saying this. I was definitely one of those scared students, afraid I would fail every test and finally succumb to the attitude that I would never succeed. College is tough, but hard work will find you success. There is a linear relationship between hard work and attained success (at least I have found). The most important, and understated, quality for success in college is passion. Passion for what you are studying. Passion for changing the world in a small, but profound, way. Passion for testing yourself, challenging yourself, and finding out what you are really capable of. This is what we should be telling high school students. That college is so incredible. You will be challenged in new ways, and sometimes your views will be bent and your perspective will be shifted. But along the journey, you learn that you are capable of so much more than you had thought. I thought (and honestly still do) that some people are just extraordinarily lucky. They do nothing and have the best opportunities thrown their way. They score internships, find their names on publications, and seemingly have everything they want so easily. I have learned that behind the success you see are hours of hard work and reaching out. There are denied internships and failed requests. Trust me when I say that “luck” is simply a product of passion, determination, perseverance, and hard work. Anyone who tells you otherwise wants you to think they didn’t have to work hard for what they have. If I could go back to high school, I would tell myself that I am capable despite not attending a private academic high school. I would tell myself to hold onto the passion that drives determination, because in the end that passion will cause fruition of many beautiful things.
We undoubtedly prepare ourselves for our future relationships every day. The way we hold ourselves towards issues, how we treat people, and the way in which we make other people feel accumulate everyday and mold who we are. For many years, I experienced difficulty with developing strong relationships with many people. I felt flawed for my preference for a small number of genuine friends. I have learned that the number of friends we have does not indicate our worth or the value of those friendships. It is the friend that we are and the friends that we surround ourselves with that truly indicate whether or not we have made wise choices in whom we share our lives with. The quote above reflects how preparing yourself to be a good friend will enable you to create long-lasting, important friendships. Preparation (although not the prettiest word to describe what we are doing) allows us to become the people that we need to be before we can have friends that are what we need them to be. This past year, I have met and made some very important and sincere friendships. I have learned the value of sharing my life with others, encouraging their dreams, and appreciating the reciprocation of love they give me. There were many years of uncertainty that led to having confidence in the friend that God designed me to be. If I could go back to my high school self, I would indeed tell her to continue preparing to be a genuine, encouraging friend. Only a year later she would find she is surrounded by some of the best people she has ever met.
It is obvious that this year has been life-changing for me. I have learned more about myself than I ever imagined, I got to study the subjects I love so much (and added a new love – philosophy), I explored what it means to be a part of a community, and I grew in my own faith by forming my own beliefs and exploring what it means to be a Christian. Here’s to a wonderful first year as a college student!