This is my FIFTIETH blog post! A landmark! (I also graduated this morning, which I guess is a landmark too.) This means I get to be insufferable and give you fifty pieces of unsolicited advice! Gosh I just adore special occasions!
No but seriously, I put some thought into this and I believe in what I've written; these are my guidelines for my own Oberlin life, which I have decided to share with you. Some of them, I learned here. Some are particularly important in this place. Some I struggle with here more than anywhere else. I've chunked them, in no particular order, into some relevant categories. Feel free to add your own in the comments!
Without further ado:
P R I O R I T I E S - Your mental, emotional, and physical health come first. That's not selfish, that's wonderful. - Only do the things you can't not do. You don't have time for anything else. - Stay away from anything that takes you out of living your moment. This moment. This one, right now. - Sit down and figure out what's important to you, generally speaking. It's okay if that changes. Just keep track. - Also be clear on what your priorities are for the coming week, and for the coming day. Be clear on what you're doing and why. (Intentionality is such a thing!)
W O R K - Do your work outside in the sun whenever possible. - Know your ideal working environment - study buddies? music? desk? cozy space? - and capitalize on it. - Choose your classes based on the professor, not on the subject. - Take on less work than you could. - Schedule short, regular study breaks. Get up, move, stretch, eat a snack, remember that you are more than just a brain.
P E O P L E - Your peers are all here because someone believed in their awesome. Train yourself to find and also believe in that awesome. - Befriend your professors. Befriend your professors! Be friends! With! Your professors! - Hang out with the people you want to become. I guarantee there are plenty of those here. - Everyone can grow. Even that jerkface. Treat everyone like they have the potential for growth (because they do!). - Recognize the humans here for the astronomically beautiful and helpful beings they are. Value no resource higher than these humans. Treat them accordingly.
E N G A G E - Show up. Be present. Go to everything that interests you and a healthy amount of things you think you'll hate. - Ask for help when you need it. Professors - and peers - can surprise you with their kindness. - Say thank you. Every single day. Exercise that gratitude muscle! - Listen more than you talk. Listening skillfully is one of the most important ways you can engage with the world. - Teach. Something. Anything. A winter term, an exco. Be a writing associate or a tutor.
B E A H U M A N - Sleep. Do not do the all-nighter. Do the sleep. - Check in with yourself daily. What ails your body? Where is your mind? How are your feelings? Stay aware of your needs. - Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself like you would a best friend. Be your own best friend. - Create silly things! Write letters, finger paint, jam with friends, cook a meal... don't bother about quality. Quality is so restrictive. - Seek balance. Extremes can be fun but are never sustainable.
G R O W - You are changing, whether you mean to or not. Keep an eye on the directions you're changing in. - Know that growth is nonlinear. You're going to frustrate and embarrass yourself. That's okay; it means you know what you want to be like and can see what you need to improve to get there. - Be vulnerable. Sit with your pain. Figure out how to deal with your discomfort productively. - Let your peers politicize you. Get angry. Learn how to channel anger into change. - There is no such thing as closure.
S M A L L D I F F E R E N C E S - Don't waste anyone's time, including your own. - Smile when you pass someone on the sidewalk. - Stay in touch with anyone and everyone you love. - Take pictures. They will become so precious to you. - Go to your friend's recital, play, show, whatever. Because you love them and because it will make you a better person.
C O M M U N I T Y - Soak up the TGIFs. It is special to have so many Obies in one place, being happy together. - Get to know the other majors in your department. Go for beers. Have study parties. - Stay for a winter term or summer or both. Get to know the other Oberlins. - Find ways to interact regularly with people who are not between the ages of 17 and 22. It will keep you grounded and give you perspective. - Organize something yourself. Appreciate how hard it is; be proud that you got people together to make something good happen.
B U C K E T L I S T - Go to West Side Market. - See the Cleveland orchestra play in Finney. - Join OSCA. - Swim in the arb. Skinny dip at night if you can. - Go to some kind of social dance. Contra, blues, swing, or whatever else. - Do art rental. - Spend time in the Allen. - Take your fave profs to professor beers. Or the Feve. Or both. - Go to at least one a cappella study break. - Walk in the streets in the middle of the night. It's some kind of magic.