Okay, success is NOT the most important thing. And ambition is not even close to being the most admirable quality. But what about hope, diligence, and confidence? We can all agree that we want the hope to pursue big goals, the diligence to see them through, and the confidence to fill the space we inhabit. As I leave winter break behind, I feel a surge of hope and confidence. What I need now is diligence, and I will feel little smiles of success if I stay true to my small (but important!) dreams for this second semester.

Remember:

1. Your hopes are not the only hopes around.

In a community setting like a college, you become more aware of how your actions impact others... or don't. Organizing a party with a group, caring for a sick friend, or attending a sports event demonstrate the power you have to shape, help, or support your surroundings. Of course if you stay in your room sleeping and watching Netflix after your work is done (that's just what I needed to do last semester because I had mono), you won't necessarily affect other people, and that's up to you. But if your interests do become intertwined with the interests of others, respect the dreams and goals of the community as a whole rather than isolating yourself.

2. If you schedule everything back-to-back, you sacrifice spontaneity.

Sometimes it's fun to run around all day, working and meeting and hurrying and suffering. This type of strenuous schedule is a huge part of the college experience in some ways. When we push ourselves to our limits, we learn a lot about ourselves. However, some of my best moments have arrived in quiet moments, in nature, or in an unscheduled hour. A break from intense pressure alleviates your soul, and you might suddenly feel very creative or inspired. If you can leave a night up to your whims, you might end up going on an adventure, sharing deep talks with a friend, or doing whatever is best for you... which is something you might not have been able to pencil into your planner days ahead.

3. Academic success feels stronger when you actively engage in discourse.

I hate the fact that, in most of my classes, I did not receive any notes on my finals. Whether papers or tests, I pour time and energy into them... but I seldom get the opportunity to see how my thoughts or answers hold up against a real discussion with another person. I see a grade online, but I don't get challenged. The amount of work that goes into the completion of my assignments is already overwhelming, but I want to do more this semester to engage in a big academic discourse surrounding my paper topics and ideas for research.

4. You don't need an excuse to reach out and meet someone new.

Sometimes it's comforting to "stick to your own" and have quality time with your closest friends, but sometimes you feel a spark with a stranger and want to talk to them. Be confident and go for it, because it's fine if you only know people who have been introduced to you by mutual friends, but you don't NEED that kind of an excuse to network and start something new.

Those are my tips for the upcoming semester! Live your life. You're the only one who can do that.