Remember that last minute advice?


By Alex Shapanka

Remember how every adult you know wanted to impart last minute wisdom as you headed off to college? I don’t know about you, but I wrote it off as generic and common sense. “Enjoy it. It goes by quickly.” “The next four years make the next forty.” In other words don’t screw up. Got it. Though I dismissed it, as I imagine many of you did as well, their thoughts were genuine and sound advice.

As I enter senior year, I finally realized I couldn’t fully appreciate what the ‘grown-ups’ said a few years ago, simple and poignant as it may have been, because we can’t completely understand that which we haven’t experienced, and I had not grown-up yet -- I still haven’t, but their advice is starting to be more meaningful.

Like every other member of the class of 2013 staring the real world in the face, I am coming to appreciate just how quickly the years pass. Unfortunately, this recognition causes many of us to kick everything into overdrive. We stress over the job search, spending countless hours in business casual attire, going to information sessions, trying to network with people who probably won’t recognize you let alone remember your name. But we’re going about the process completely wrong. The future should be something we look on with excitement not anxiety. While the uncertainty of what is to come can be unsettling, know that if you are willing to see where the road takes you, rather than stressing over the construction of a safer path, you will be fine. 

Stop over planning. I’m not suggesting we sacrifice the future for the sake of the present, but when I see seniors stressing about enjoying our last year, it’s time to pump the breaks. Talk about irony. Having a good time is not something that should be reduced to another box to check off before we sport our caps and gowns. Don’t go crazy trying to cram as many experiences into the school year as possible. Do what you enjoy. That goes for campus involvements as well. Cut the excess.

If you think everything I shared was obvious, ask yourself if you said the same thing about the advice you received before coming to Duke, and read it again.