If you’re reading this, understand that it is perfectly normal to be bewildered, lost, and sometimes down-right confused about what is going on around you.
College is an exceptionally strange time when, especially at the beginning, you can feel an expectation to be ready-to-go from minute one and adapt seamlessly into a new, strange environment. That is not the case for anyone and nor will it ever be.
Here at Virginia, we are lucky to have fantastic resources and people, but all the choices, all the decisions, and all the pressures can be difficult to deal with.
What’s most important is that you focus on you and make the decisions that provide you with happiness, calmness, and fulfillment of your internal needs.
Looking back over my time here, I know that I have struggled to do this at times. I’ve filled much of my time “on the chase”, pursuing prestige or recognition for things that maybe didn’t make me feel very whole. During my fourth year so, I’ve tried to take a different direction by investing in people and the groups that really make me feel welcome and warm.
I've been playing soccer with a local SOCA team, having people over to watch documentaries and musicals, and trying to read an outside book every two weeks. Reading saves the soul and by engaging in a team of "real people” makes me feel much more rooted. There’s pleasure in success don’t get me wrong, but there’s far greater joy the compassion and love you find around other people and doing what you enjoy.
While you're here, do what makes you happy, focus on finding out your passions and what you care about, for you will not care about prestige if you are not happy. Surround yourself with the people who actually care about you— people who are there when you need them, not when it’s convenient for them. Don’t change who you are and your quirks to fit in, as there are people here who will love you no matter who you are.
If you’re reading this, just be you.
Alex R., University of Virginia, Class of 2018