I was inspired by Humans of New York and Youtuber Thoraya Maronesy. They told stories, and I wanted to do the same.
In my vision, I saw students looking after other students. I fueled this idea with the influences I was lucky enough to have. I saw how much words were able to drive people, so this helped shape my goal into a more prominent form: advice from some fourth-years and some alumni. I reached out to my friends to ask if they had any advice they would like to share. Almost all of them agreed (you have no idea how grateful I am!)
Why did I decide to do this in the first place? I wanted to share the influence. It comforted me knowing that there were kind people out there, something that my friends exhumed and exemplified. I think a lot of us need to see/hear the love; so, I'm here to share it with you, dear reader.
We're all students here; so, to our younger friends: we got your back. To us: they got ours'.
One thing I'd like to say, though: it all starts with you.
1. Don't be afraid to be who you are
Just do you, honeyGiphy
I think growing up we face a lot of identity issues: who we should be in our parents' eyes, who we should be in our friends' eyes, etc. but rarely do we think who we should be for our self. I think that college is such a wonderful time to find out who you are and to people who really support you for you. I would encourage everyone to explore all venues for you to be the best version of you. I started at UCLA as someone was in ROTC for a bit, then I got more involved with ORL and became at RA. I even took an extra quarter and studied in Washington DC. I also recommend surrounding yourself with people who wholeheartedly support the person that you are, not just people who pretend that they are. Finding friends who love you and support you really make the difference. I found my best friends at UCLA; if I didn't go through everything I did at UCLA, I never would have found them. It's also okay to lose friends during that journey too. There's nothing wrong with that, sometimes people just aren't the people you thought they were or you lose common interests, which is okay. Just don't let that hinder you from being you.
- Heather Leinenbach, UCLA/ Class of 2016
2. Take care of yourself
In the words of the queen Ariana Grande, "just keep breathin' and breathin' and breathin' and breathin'"Giphy
You have probably heard people say that getting into UCLA is the easier accomplishment. Meanwhile, staying at UCLA and retaining yourself is another beast of a task. I could go on about how important it is to build time management skills and how to prioritize your assignments, but self-care should be a crucial part of this conversation. When students enter university for the first time, it's both exciting and overwhelming. You'll find yourselves signing up for a million and one organizations while drowning in your assignments and projects. When you feel like it's too much, yet what you're doing feels like it's never enough - this is when you tell yourself that it's OKAY to take a step back. BREATHE. Take care of yourself.
Self-care looks different for everyone and finding the right type of self-care can take time. For myself, I've found that it's calligraphy and going to the gym. Your assignments and projects can wait. Your health - mentally, physically, and emotionally - won't. So take a step back. BREATHE. It's okay to take care of yourself and to put yourself first. This is my figurative hug to y'all struggling with anxiety and crippled with the fear of failure. I've been there too!
get well soon loves :)
- Aimiel Casillan, UCLA
3. Don't be afraid to get the help you need
You're not invincible, but you're not a piece of garbage. You have a whole life ahead of you, so don't hate yourself while you're living it. Be humble, be kind, and love yourself as you do others.
That's something that has been a constant in my life for years: not treating myself kindly. I would give this advice to anyone, but I rarely ever give it to myself. I'm trying to take it to heart. I'm making it a piece of me.
- Emma Bohlig, Sonoma State University
4. Take it easy
You can breathe!Giphy
It's totally fine to just chill and take it easy! By that, I mean that you don't have to join every possible club and student group; you don't have to have your academic goals set and your [chosen major], and you don't need to be best friends with the first people you meet. If you are, that's great! If you aren't, don't worry—you will be constantly meeting new people throughout your undergraduate years. In fact, I didn't meet some of my closest friends today until my second year in college. I think we're often so caught up in this mindset that we need to have everything together from start to finish. Being on a campus that is very preprofessional, I definitely felt unnecessary stress during my first year about my own career goals because so many people around me seemed to know exactly what they wanted to do with themselves. But, in reality, college is meant to be a time of exploration and self-growth; learning to let go of things, understanding what we value, and developing passions. It's totally okay to not know what to do with your life or where your life is going—because chances are, most of those around you don't either!
- Chaereen Pak, University of Pennsylvania
5. Go after a path you're passionate about, not a path someone has set in their mind for you.
Stay true to yourself! It's a liberating feelingGiphy
I started college as a computer science major thanks to my high school mythology teacher who told a class of clueless seniors that it was an "up and coming field". Having no prior experience or common sense, I took the leap. Long story short, I found myself drowning. I was scoring low on projects while maintaining the fairytale that I could one day become a Google employee. I was in denial. I eventually had my first real encounter with severe depression that semester, lost all hope for my future and was seriously considering dropping out.
Thanks to two professors who gave me a chance that following winter term, I was able to get back up onto my feet. To this day, I firmly believe in the influential power that a professor can hold. I have taken my fair share of challenging courses over time and my success now as a psychology major would not be possible had it not been for the instructors who believed in my potential. Talk to your professors. Do not be afraid to go to their office hours and pick their brains. They are people just like you, plus you never know how they can help you in the future. I have slowly learned this lesson over the last two years because I had always been afraid of being judged by my professors when in reality, my own fears were blocking my success.
Lastly, if you are ever doubting yourself, talk with a counselor, therapist, family, or friends. I've learned that no matter what, we all need a strong support system through this.
- Nelly Mardiros, California State University Northridge
6. Be passionate
Listen to yourself.Giphy
Find out what makes you kinder, what opens you up and brings out the most loving, generous, and unafraid version of you ― and go after those things as if nothing else matters. Because, actually, nothing does.
— George Saunders
Passion. Have it, don't just think about it. This is pretty cliché, but I feel like people don't understand it enough. Passion is energy. It's the power and fulfillment you get from focusing on what excites you. And it's not something you either have or don't; it's something you develop. So don't feel too bad if you haven't discovered yours yet.
I'm here to tell you: it's never too late to change your path, and quitting isn't weakness. It's okay if your dreams or path changes, because people change and life doesn't always go as planned. I should know. I grew up geared with the mindset to take over the family business. I got a business degree, went to law school after college, failed, and then decided I wanted to get into social media as a career.
All it takes (and this is probably one of the hardest steps) is the decision to actually make some moves in a positive direction. But the thing is, once you find what you're passionate about and start working on it, you'll never stop growing and all your "work" becomes play.
- Danielle Olan, Ateneo Law School 2016-2017
English Language Assistant/ Content Creator
7. Don't be afraid of change
Surprise, it's enlightenment!Giphy
Change is good and it leads you one step closer to finding out your true passions in life. During my second year, I was hesitant about whether or not my major (wine and viticulture) was right for me. I took a journalism class, for my approved elective, and fell in love with it instantly. I wanted to change my major to journalism right away -- however, I decided not to pursue it because I wanted to graduate on time. But I still wanted to get involved with the journalism department, so I decided to apply for an internship at my school's news media group Mustang News. I was accepted into the organization and I'm now a part of their social media team. Being involved with Mustang News made me realize that my path will be different than most people in my major and I am truly content with that. I am also grateful for the many positive changes in my college career so far that led to where I am today. Not going to lie, I took a big risk not applying for internships and jobs that are in the wine industry, but I know that there are bigger and better things for me that will fulfill my passion for social media marketing.
- Candace Lee, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
8. Don't put weapons around your heart; make your heart a weapon
You've got the power!Giphy
I studied business, where people tend to use their hearts less but I learned that you get people on your side if you show that you're genuine and real.
- Athina Olan, University of San Carlos/ Class of 2017
English Language Assistant
9. Put things into perspective
Sis, do it for yourself!Giphy
It's easy to get lost in the scheme of GPA, getting a research position, volunteering, shadowing, etc. As long as you keep some sort of tunnel vision and realize the purpose as to why you're doing what you're doing, you'll make it through. Surround yourself with those you love, do things you like to do, and don't beat yourself up for failures. They happen to everyone. At the end of the day, this is your life and your time you're spending. Make sure you're actually happy.
- Vanessa Alvarado, UCLA
10. Take your time
Get dem epiphaniesGiphy
Honestly take the time to acclimate and get acquainted with college and all it has to offer, but not too much time. What I mean by that is that yes, your grades matter, and you do want to do well here; but, you need to also make sure you prioritize yourself. Personally, I feel as though I spent my entire first year reading and studying and barely maintaining my close relationships as well as keeping in contact with family. I think taking the time to study and indulge in other passions will allow you time to understand yourself and how you can lend yourself to the world through your studies.
- Mylene Buenfil, UCLA
11. This is only one chapter of a book
Go the distance!Giphy
As much as I am so grateful to be at UCLA, I always try to stay humble and realize that UCLA is just a chapter out of a journey and that journey will continue outside of it. UCLA is great and college is great, but remember that you have a whole life and world outside of college. You make a mistake in the four years you had, do not worry. You have another chapter in your life after you graduate. If you make college an amazing time and are enjoying everything about it that is also great! You have the opportunity to continue making those bonds and experiences when you graduate in another environment. Overall just remember you can always change your life path and the goals you want to accomplish. College is not the end and whatever you do with your time here is completely up to you!
- Jessica Kim, UCLA