Hello all! Since this is my first blog post for Whitman, I thought I would take a minute to introduce myself. My name is Kevin Dyer, and I am a senior English Major with a German minor. In addition to my schoolwork I am one of this year’s captains on the Varsity Swim Team – Fun fact: I’ve been swimming since I was about eight years old – and am also a Senior Admissions Intern in the Admissions Office. On top of that, I am one of the school’s two A-Team managers, meaning I help coordinate all of our tour guides. In summary: senior year is an extremely, extremely busy year for me (but still really exciting, regardless).
In any event, for this week’s blog post, I’ve been asked to provide some of the sage wisdom that helped me get through my freshman year here at Whitman College. After taking some time to think back to my first year of college and the super stressful process of choosing a college which preceded it, I’ve managed to recall some of the better advice that I received from upperclassmen, friends at home, family, or my advisors – pretty much anyone and everyone, up to and including wisdom from movie characters. Some of the items on this list may not seem like they would make a big difference, and one or two of them might seem kind of counterintuitive, but believe me when I say that the nuggets of wisdom included here definitely helped me get through the toughest parts of my college search/freshman year. Maybe they’ll be of help to someone else.
1) Happiness really matters. It’s funny to say as it seems so simple and obvious, but it’s really easy to forget, especially during the first semester at college. It’s extremely easy to get so wound up in classes, activities, grades and stress that you just forget that it really matters to be happy. Even if you have to budget time to do something you enjoy, find a way to do something that just makes you smile, whatever that is. Even a few minutes, here and there, are enough to make your life that much better, and that much more enjoyable.
2) This one concerns largely the academic side of things, but it also gets into the social side of the college experience as well. Also, just being honest, I pulled this one from Fight Club (Yes, Fight Club was something of a favorite book/movie of mine). Part of life, and particularly part of the academic experience, is finding the ability within yourself to let that which does not matter truly slide. This does not mean just don’t care about anything: if you want to get anything done, you have to care. The trick is to recognize when you’re getting caught up in meaningless details, or getting wound up over a grade, an interaction, an incident, anything, that in the long run won’t matter. Figuring out what does and does not matter can make or break a college experience, and believe me, it can make or break an individual. I still struggle with this one in both my academic and day to day life, but I honestly think that if you can hold onto this ideal, no matter what happens, you’ll be fine.
3) Do something new, no matter how far outside of your normal spectrum of activities or interests it is. It took me a little while to try this one, but in the end it ended up being one of the best things that I could have possibly done for myself. In my case, my new adventures came in the form of my freshman year roommate, who got me into both Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: the Gathering. In high school, I would have been caught dead before trying something that I saw as being so absurdly nerdy, but now, I’ve come to appreciate these things for what they are: good, simple fun. It doesn’t matter what other people think about your interest in something, as nerdy as it could be, so long as you enjoy it, and to be honest, I’ve made some of my closest friends here at Whitman through playing these extremely nerdy games.
In any event, those are my big three pieces of advice that I received as a freshman/incoming freshman, and those are the biggest bits of wisdom I would want to impart to anyone else. Life at college can be hard, especially at the beginning, but if you just stick with it, and if you just find ways to cope with your problems, the college experience can be an amazing, amazing thing. So, to anyone reading this, I hope these bits of wisdom help, and I wish you the best of luck, whether you are in the college search, or are already at college.