Wow. I am in my eighth semester at SUNY Geneseo now, 3.5 years completed. What have I learned? In regards to my degree, I’m not really sure, I’ve never reflected on it. But in terms of personal growth, a lot. I’ve learned a great deal about myself, people, and life. The knowledge I’ve gained in my time here is incomparable.
First thing I learned, you don’t have to know exactly what you’re going to do next.
When you enter college, one of the first questions is always, “what’s your major?” When you give an answer, the response is likely to be, “what do you plan on doing with it?” or “you should probably figure that out.”
I entered college believing that I would pursue a BA in Psychology and English Creative Writing, minoring in Sociology and Human Development or Communication. I planned on going straight to graduate school to be a school psychologist or child psychologist after I finished my undergraduate degree. I knew where I wanted to go, but my plans fell apart when reality set in that psychology was too biological for me. It was kind of dry, and I didn’t really care about how the brain worked. And I was rejected from the Creative Writing Track. All in all, my ideal plans fell apart.
I won’t lie, when my dreams shattered, I felt everything collapse around me. I’m still sorting through the wreckage. I changed my major to English Literature, then added Sociology as a second major. Following that, I switched Sociology to my first major, and dropped English literature to a minor. My goal GPA was a 3.8, now I’m just hoping to make it past 2.3.
A lot has changed over the years, and when people ask me what I’m going to do with my degree now, I simply say, I plan on figuring out what I want to do, and gain some experience while I’m at it. Ideally, I would work for a non-profit dealing with children and literacy where I could use my skills in writing and editing. I don’t know where I’ll be after I finish, but I’m not worried about it anymore. Why overwhelm myself with the future, when I can enjoy the now and open myself up to endless possibilities?
Next thing I learned, it doesn’t matter how long you’re in school
I often joke with my friends that Geneseo is a five-year college. Why? Because most of the people I’ve met has taken extra time to finish their degree, and the idea of an extra year is considered normal now unlike before. Personally, the only time frame I thought of graduating was after four years, or before four years. Ironically, I am now one of those people that will take extra time. Granted, I hope to graduate in August, but that does not change the fact that for that Summer 2014, I will be a “super senior.”
The concept of taking extra time left me distraught for a very long time. I felt like I failed, like I was defected or something. My friends tried to reassure me that it wasn’t that big of a deal, and people did it all the time, especially after changing majors. But I was one of those people that tracked credits and requirements, and from the looks of it, there was a time when I could have graduated early. So it was extremely disheartening to realize I would finish later than anticipated. But my siblings reminded me that school is just school, and it doesn’t define who I am, and regardless of when I finish, I will end up with that degree.
Another thing I learned is that some people just care
Only recently did I come to the realization that as much as I care about my friends and family, they care about me too. I grew up pretty independently, taking all the obstacles and hardships on my own without expressing how I felt to anyone close to me. I didn’t want to worry them, and I didn’t want to ask for help, it made me feel weak.
Throughout these few years, especially this past one, I found out that there are people who just care, even if you don’t want them to. There are people who will always be by your side and support you because they want you to succeed. It also helped me understand that asking for help isn’t weak or strong, it’s just admitting that there are things in life that we can’t do on our own. At some point or another, everyone needs help in some regard.
Lastly, and I think most importantly, I learned that perfection is an illusion
I can be a perfectionist when it comes to certain things. I push myself hard to meet this extremely high expectation of what should be. Doing this became too much for me, it overwhelmed me, and in a way, debilitated me. It took me a while to pull myself out from the pit of thinking that I wasn’t up to par, or that I wasn’t good enough. I slowly began to accept that what I am able to do is enough.
This leads me to the conclusion that true perfection doesn’t exist. There is no one way that someone or something can be perfect. Like the saying, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” so is perfection. Everyone is perfect in his or her own way, because there will be at least one person out there who thinks so. What we ourselves may not consider perfect may be perfectly done in another’s eyes.
This idea of perfect ruins us because we keep trying to pursue it, but it’s impossible. Perfection is a myth, and socially constructed. There was a time when obesity was perfection because it showed wealth, now people are skin and bones. Who determines what is and isn’t perfect? And why do they get to decide that?
I learned a lot so far in my journey through my undergraduate career, and I hope to learn more before I finish my time at SUNY Geneseo. But there is no way I could have figured out these three points that basically changed my life without the experience at this school. Each of these life lessons have contributed to my feeling better about myself, about who I am, and who I want to be. I don’t have to fit into a mold, or even fit into what others believe is the right thing or what they think is perfect. As long as I am satisfied with myself, I am perfect, and slowly I am getting to that point.
So, I want to thank my professors, and friends during my time here at SUNY Geneseo, and all the people that read my blog and comment. I hope that one day everyone can feel perfect in his or her own skin.