It's Okay Not To Find Yourself Right Away In College

It's Okay Not To Find Yourself Right Away In College

There's always still time.
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During the last few weeks of my senior year of high school, as graduation day got closer and closer, I was feeling on top of the world. My real life was about to begin. I was heading off to college to pursue my dream, and I was living on campus, away from home for the first time in my life. I remember the excitement that came with sending in my housing deposit, selecting my room and connecting with my future roommates via “.edu” email. I wore my UMass sweatshirt with pride everywhere I went.

Well, as it turned out, my first year fell a little short of my expectations. I’m not saying it was terrible, but, well, before I even started college myself, I had heard enough college stories—fictional ones in movies and books, as well as true ones from friends and family members—to start wondering and imagining my own story, and the reality didn’t quite match the picture in my head. A lot of the time I remember feeling kind of lost socially and emotionally, and I went home almost every weekend because somehow, weekends at home still felt more exciting than weekends at school. I was pretty confused, because by the end of high school, I felt as if I’d found myself—found my crowd, my place, and the kind of person I wanted to be—and at the end of my freshman year, I didn’t feel so sure of any of that anymore.

Here’s a secret, though—most of the friends I have now have also admitted to not having a super glamorous freshman year. It turned out to be more common than I let myself believe, especially when I watched other people in my year stroll through campus looking like they had it all figured out, and then wondered where I might’ve been going wrong. The answer was nowhere, and the more people I heard that from, the more I began to realize two things: 1) There is not, in fact, any specific point in time when a college kid is supposed to find himself/herself, and 2) No one can actually say for certain whether people ever “find themselves” at all. One thing I can say for certain, though—I am not the same student now, in my third year, as I was my first year. I joined clubs and activities that gave my on-campus life more purpose, and introduced me to a lot of amazing people. I realized I was unhappy in my major and switched to a field I was more passionate about. I thrived in my classes and raised my GPA. I sought out environments and situations that felt more comfortable and right for me. I learned so much about life, about people, about the world, and, yes, even about myself. Does that mean I’ve officially found myself? Who knows, but I sure feel a lot more confident these days than I did when I first started college.

My message to second-semester freshmen—and to high school seniors approaching graduation—and really, to anyone who feels like they’re still struggling to figure themselves out in these college years—is this: There’s still time. There’s always still time. In fact, I’m starting realize how ridiculous the pressure to get a completely clear sense of yourself within a certain time frame is. Not only does everyone grow at their own pace, but also, life and people are constantly changing and you really only need to worry about doing what feels right for you now, in the present. It’s perfectly okay to feel a little lost, and the sooner you stop dwelling on it, the sooner you’ll be able to get out and discover what makes you happy and fulfilled, and your personal growth will naturally follow.

Cover Image Credit: Ariana Leo

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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NC State Class Of 2023, This One Is For You

Tips to not look like a freshman.

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As I finish out my first full year of college here at NCSU, I realize how much I've changed since my first weeks on campus. I understand how to make my way across campus without looking like a total div. Take these tips that I learned and use them!

1. Do NOT wear your key lanyard around your neck

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If you do this, people will know for sure that you are a freshman. The dorm keys you have? Don't show them off. They aren't that cool. Instead lock those keys onto a bracelet, wallet or phone.

2. Get Tapingo

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Tapingo is an app connected to your Wolfpack One card that allows you to order food from anywhere on campus ahead of time. This SAVES more than enough time since you get alerts on how long it will take and how many people there are ahead of you. Then you can just pick it up and go.

3. Do not order from Jason's Deli and expect it to be fast

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Jason's Deli is well known on campus for taking forever to make their food, even if you order ahead of time on Tapingo. It also just isn't worth it.

4. The best places to eat...

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One Earth located in Talley near the outdoor elevator. Starbucks located on the groundfloor of Wolfpack Outfitters. Los Lobos in the Talley common area. Brickyard pizza at the Atrium. SmoothieU at the Atrium. These are some of the freshest, best options that a lot of people forget about.

5. The worst places to eat...

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Tuffy's diner. Port City Java. They aren't bad but they aren't good. Cheap for sure, but tons of calories and probably frozen.

6. Download the electric scooter app

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Sadly Lime scooters are leaving Raleigh before you guys get here. But we have some new ones coming in that look just as cool. These bad boys are fun and save a TON of time when walking across campus!

7. Use Uber or a friend when attending games

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Football and basketball games are very popular. The Red Terror bus that can take undergrads for free to Carter Finley and PNC get very crowded very fast. So if you chose to ride them, get there early or push your way through. But it's hot, crowded, and not fun and takes forever so it's better to just pay the money to Uber or get a friend who has a car.

8. Bring water to the games

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The football games get SO HOT. Most people leave after the first quarter if they can even make it to that. Recommend to bring water. It will be much more enjoyable that way.

9. Do not feel pressured to go out to parties every night

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Parties are fun and all, but my biggest mistake was going to so many within the first few weeks and spending tons of money on ubers or hurting my feet by walking so far. They aren't worth it. Much better to hang with friends and do game night at someones apartment or dorm.

10. Be friends with your RA

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RAs are usually super nice and can help out with so much whether that be stress, homework, etc.

11. Go to events

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Meet friends, join clubs, or get a job on campus.

12. Get a job

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Despite what you may think, since all your meals are paid for and it doesn't seem like you need much money - You will run out faster than you think. Get a job, it makes life so much easier and less yelling from parents.

13. Always go to events early for free stuff

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Better start learning how to pretend that you are interested in stuff just to get a free item.

14. Study hard, but not too hard

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Yes, college is harder than high school. But GPA is less necessary here and things count for different percentages. You won't fail and if you do, it is OK, everyone does.

15. Eat at the dining halls

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Dining halls post the menu online and guess what this food is actually good! i regret not eating it as much first semester because they have hidden gems like the pizza, omelets, and more.

16. Do not wait until the last minute to make housing arrangements for sophomore year

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Last minute meaning like November. Most people have decided where they will live by then. So make arrangements ASAP.

17. Workout

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Freshman 15 is real since you can eat and nap whenever you want. Workout - it makes you feel better

18. Don't wear the convocation shirt

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A few things about Wolfpack Welcome Week:

- Packapalooza is fun and a great way to get free items.

- Convocation is really dumb, not necessary, super boring, and wearing the shirt you get is a bad idea because that will also make you look like a freshman. You do NOT need to read the summer book, it's pointless!!

- All the other events are worth attending.

19. Do not overdecorate your room

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it just means more to take down later on.

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