In two Saturdays, I'll be accepting a fancy paper from President Jon Wallace and marching around the SoCal heat in a gown. Since next weekend will be even busier than this one, I've decided to write out ten of the things I learned during the course of getting my undergraduate degree.
1. How to say no. Undergraduate programs and four-year universities have activities constantly. Yesterday, my department alone hosted two events, and I attended one of them. Part of undergrad is learning how to say no to things that suck your time and energy when those things are not available.
2. How to say yes. I'm a relatively adventurous soul, but the last few years have been full of unexpected adventures and moments of "yeah, okay. Sounds good," even when it sounded terrifying.
3. Deadlines are lines of death. To be sure, I learned this through the theatre I did during undergrad, but the point remains: a deadline is a deadline is a uncrossable chasm of death. Occasionally, life will present several minor explosions in a row and an extension will be necessary, but I've learned that treating deadlines as absolutely solid is the best way to guarantee you'll get an extension when the stakes are really high.
4. Adulthood means finding your own challenges. There are several classes I've taken throughout my college career that felt like free A's (or at least free B's), and as we all know, "D's get Degrees." However, I don't take easy A courses unless I have no choice (see: Walk/Jog - Spring 2015). I learned that being an adult means looking for something to force growth.
5. Money will wait. There's stuff I need more than money (like books, and working electricity). Having money saved up is obviously incredibly important, but it can't be the priority during college. This was a hard lesson, because there were times when my savings account was lower than it has been since I was ten.
6. Really smart people disagree with me. There's this attitude that can develop in high school: "People who disagree with me are stupid and/or wrong." College should teach you to see that people who are brilliant disagree with you, and sometimes they are wrong anyway. The opinions of others deserve fully human respect.
7. Faith is personal. I'm not referring to keeping faith hidden, but that there is no fully corporate faith that lasts. If your faith depends on your parents, youth group, political party, or even your pastor, it will not survive college. In the end, what you believe is between you and God, and sustaining that belief, asking questions, and getting answers all depend on you doing something when something is necessary.
8. People care about confidence, not coolness. I've made a lot of different friends, and a lot of different kinds of friends, throughout college. For the most part, I am on the nerdier side of the spectrum, and I haven't found anyone who I considered to be a remotely mature adult to care AT ALL. It's all about accepting yourself as yourself, and not about knowing "what's up."
9. Feminism. Diversity. White privilege. I'm a feminist, because women are fully human beings who deserve fully human rights. While there was never a time I disagreed with that sentence, I didn't consider myself a feminist in high school. In a similar vein, I moved to California two years into college and had the following reaction: "WHERE DID ALL THESE WHITE PEOPLE COME FROM?!" Having grown up in a place where I had to explain my whiteness to gain acceptance, it was baffling to be on the other side of the societal power structure. I'm still not used to it, but now I know what it is.
10. I am Spider-Man (Because Spider-Woman doesn't use webs). Life is a glorious adventure of hanging onto a rope, swinging, releasing, and grabbing a new one. I've swung on a wire from assignment to assignment, weekend to weekend, class to class, and sometimes minute to minute. I can do it. It can be done. I am Spider-Man.