DISCLAIMER: This post is gonna be a reflection post on my leadership journey in NUS. It contains my experiences and mine only (it does not apply to everyone), neither is it a one size fits all kind of thing. Feel free to take the advice, but also know that it is from MY perspective.
I think I used to be afraid of position names. I still am, except, this time it comes with a sliver of courage, which is something experience (bad and good) gave me. I was afraid of position names because I used to think that it was a bad thing if I could be in a position and not have the ability to fulfil my role which would lead to letting people down. Slowly, as I took different positions, I realised that I not only was able to lead well in that role (thank you God!!) but I also surpassed my expectations in terms of what I was capable of. This is not to say that I didn’t fail. I freaked out countless times, especially with a fear of public speaking, I didn’t know how to phrase my words properly (I still have trouble with that), in that I do not know how to be diplomatic. I’m more of a get-the-job-done person, many times without considering the interpersonal relationships and dynamics of people that are intricately linked to the task at hand. Anyway, here’s a few lessons I learnt after taking on about 5-6 different leadership positions in Uni, from Subcomms to Secretary, I’ve kinda tried most stuff, including currently being the Project Director for Guardians.
- School is a safer and friendlier place to learn from your mistakes. I’ve always been very thankful for school. It’s the one place where you can screw up and have people actually teach you and tell you what went wrong without them having your head chopped after that. In the corporate world I’m sure that’s not just not the case, but also out there if you made a mistake, it could potentially cost like thousands or millions of dollars for the company. I guess I’m always thankful for mentors, seniors, people who give you advice especially with regards to leadership positions. I’m not saying you cannot get this out there in the working world, it is just that in school, it’s different, you can actually ask questions for things you don’t know with less politics, less people breathing down your neck, etc. It’s kinder, friendlier, of course this is not to say there aren’t politics, but, if you really hate it, you’re also free to leave an organization. I suppose it isn’t that simple to walk away from a job.
- Do things well in your term, give your best, LEAVE A LEGACY. You’re not gonna be serving in that term forever, pass on things well, don’t do a slipshod job. I get super annoyed every time people pass on stuff (whether materials, or their legacies) and it’s like crappy. Like a crappy event that was previously hosted, or a crappy attitude or whatever. Don’t do it halfheartedly, I mean you got elected/chosen/selected/whatever into that position because you said you wanted to do it, so do it, dammit. Do it well, don’t leave crap for people to pick up. Having said that, bad experience has also taught me that people will always leave their crap for you to pick up, then the onus is on you to create a good event, run a position well, do things to the best of your ability, then you (and your exco if you have one) will do well. I learnt this especially from my time in ODAC, the seniors did well, so well and there was so much that was learnt from them. My batch that served were tremendously talented as well as responsible and hardworking, they toiled super hard to create great events. I learnt much with them because I watched how they worked intelligently and honestly. So when we passed on everything to the next batch, they had much greatness to inherit (lol), no seriously, they inherited great things and we also made sure we attempted to select the best people so we could carry these things on. I’m still proud of them (hehe).
- Good communication is key. Be honest, yet tactful. I am still learning this. Two years, about 6-7 CCAs and I still have not mastered this art, yet I can say I have improved much. Communication breakdown tends to lead to failure. It seems very cliche to say this but seriously, a dearth of communication tends to lead to shit happening everywhere. Internal politics will result in external events failing, one cell believes they worked harder than the other cell, this results in crappy feelings and angst against another party, then leading to vendettas of people against other people, blah blah blah… I’ve gone through that and it wasn’t a pretty sight. So communicate, learn to air your feelings, sometimes it will be more painful than other times, especially if you’re on the side of blame, but I can say that it is better to deal with people telling you your mistakes in a straightforward and direct way than it is to deal with bitter feelings and unspoken tensions and fake diplomacy. Good communication also ensures people in the team know what is going on, they feel involved, not left out, and everyone wants to feel involved and part of the event/team.
- You need a good combination of diplomacy and efficiency. Usually you do this by combining the P/VP personalities, or at least in the Pres cell you should have a combination of both kinds. This means that you have to have task-oriented and people-oriented personalities. Too much of one either results in unhappy people while the job may be done, or happy people and no job done, or slow job done. Diplomacy is super important, you need someone who can talk to people, persuade, convince, and also elicit actions and responses from people, whether your fellow exco, participants, etc. Some people have both efficiency and diplomacy, like an individual I worked with and am friends with for two years. But others like me do not, I can really work but I don’t have as much skill/tactfulness in speaking to people. Have both personalities and those who lack part of the duo also sometimes do learn slowly. Having said that, it is not that these are the only two things needed in good leadership, but they are extremely crucial. Other factors however, do count.
- Learn the ropes of different roles in organizational stuff in NUS. Proposals, Admin, how to deal with OSA, how to book venues, how to email people using PDPA guidelines, how to handle addresses/a torrent of them especially in large(r) events, how to deal with manpower issues, logistics, catering services, vendors, marketing. Everyone of these usually is a different cell in a committee but it is good to get to know them. I think it is good that people try different things to learn. I joined logistics, admin, manpower, publicity, before I applied for VP role in a club. I think that’s very useful because it gives you finally a bird’s eye view over situations and in events you know where to get what done and how to get it done. It seems like a trivial job to print posters but there are things to learn there too. Ask questions, try different roles and learn from those who are in it already, it doesn’t hurt to learn more things and be able to help others who may suffer from the same problems in future. Also, knowing different cells and their roles actually makes you very marketable, it makes people want you because you know stuff and you can do stuff and even if you’re not doing it directly, they know you will be an asset to the club. Never hurts to be needed/wanted.
- Lastly, learn to deal with higher ups – whether OSA, CCA advisors, or even if you’re in a Subcomm, learn to deal with your pres cell. You need to learn to work under authority and with authority. Instead of feeling inferior, know your position and then excel in it, sometimes exceed expectations (haha). Make yourself an active and integral part of whatever you’re in. Learn to deal with higher-ups by befriending them and working with them, if you have issues with them, try and voice it out nicely (and if it doesn’t work, find another way out or ask for help/alternative suggestions). The higher-ups usually don’t cause trouble unless you do.
Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to drop your comments/disagree. 🙂
It’s the little things that count, and this semester, I learnt to be proud of, and thankful for the smallest things. They’re little on their own but if you put them together, they’re not so little after all.
Here’s 25 little victories this semester:
- Being punctual for class. God knows how hard it was to (actually show up) and be punctual for class especially when the going got tough
- Attempting to eat healthier. (YAY!)
- Keeping coffee intake to ONE cup a day – for those people who say I am a coffee addict, now you know
- Not cabbing to school at all this semester. SAVING ALL THAT MONEY
- Learning how to save a few bucks a day
- Learning NOT to be guilty for being tired and then pushing myself doubly hard to deal with my weak, inefficient self.
- Planning essay submission such that it was one essay per week, not 5 per week (12/13).
- Walking away from friendships that caused me pain (congrats to me!)
- Shopping less
- Spending more time with my family, going home before 9pm almost every night.
- Doing more readings than last semester
- Doing readings not for assignments but for interest’s sake
- Gaining enough confidence to wear a midi dress (and other things that I thought was not my ‘type’ of attire).
- Maintaining my composure in tight situations and not lambasting people who I had issues against.
- Sleeping 6 hours (or more) a day (with the exception of one day in the semester)
- Finishing a notebook planner – like reaching the end of the book and not dumping it halfway
- Very actively participating in church stuff 🙂 yay
- Learning and honing a new skill/interest in watercolour
- Selling my own creations and learning to believe in the power of art and that I can make something that make people smile (thank you friends who have played a part in this)
- Making time for people who matter. Loving harder than ever.
- Being okay with being alone and happy on my own
- Drinking enough water (almost everyday)
- Reading my Bible almost everyday
- Hanging out more with my dad before he left for missions
- Quitting things that were not worth my time. and not being guilty for it.
This is written for broke college students. By broke, I mean 2.50 in your bank account kind of broke. That’s how bad it gets. One uber ride here ’cause you’re late and another expensive 10 bucks meal there and before you know it, you’re utterly down to your last dollar.
This cycle repeats every month until you get paid perhaps if you’re working part time or like a few hours a week which I’m sure is what a lot of us do. Wherever the money comes from, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s kinda gone before we know it. Social media is filled with advertisements and we fall for it. It doesn’t help that Google or the bots that run the internet track what we see and later you see that Zalora dress turn up as an ad on your Facebook sidebar. It sucks.
Anyway so this is how I saved money because well, I needed to plan for an event and more importantly, I was really sick of being broke
- Firstly, make your own food. And if you can’t cook then get what you like to eat that’s really easily prepared. Well, it depends on what you like to eat. You could boil potatoes, celery and chicken overnight in a slow cooker for stew which costs about $5 for everything. I’m good with oats. I grabbed a 1kg bag of rolled oats and another bag of oatmeal and dunked them both in a box, mixed them. I soaked a portion overnight every night and ate it with milk and whatever fruits I could find in the fridge. That and coffee, made breakfast. It lasted me till at least 1 to 2pm. Then I got a meal at school, about 4 bucks maximum. And then the next meal was dinner which I forced myself to go home for. So I spend 4 bucks a day on food outside. That’s a change from spending 10 bucks a day. That’s 6 dollars difference, in a week, that’s 42 bucks.
(Other ideas include: boiled eggs (my friend says you can chill them overnight), macaroni and minced chicken with veg and fishball, put chicken stock for the soup, pasta salad, fried rice – where you empty the contents of your fridge’s leftovers into the frying pan, sandwiches – all sorts of them).
- I started going home earlier. Going home late means sleeping later and waking later. University for me doesn’t start till 10, so of course I don’t get up at 6. I didn’t have to at least. But I realised as above mentioned, that I saved cost on one meal by having dinner at home. That meant I was home by 8pm. After dinner, was work until about 11.30 and I went to bed earlier, and consequently woke up at 7 instead of the usual 8.30. That’s a whole hour and a half more to chill, make breakfast, shower, prep to go to school, check emails, roll around a bit more in bed if needed etc. That’s an hour an a half of money. Look, if you wake up quick and rush, you lose the chance to have breakfast and then you’re starving but you have to go to class so you dash out to class, grab something small along the way which doesn’t exactly fill you but it’s meant to last till lunch – waffles and a drink that’s about 2.50, repeat this 4 times and week and that’s 10 bucks extra. You saved 10 bucks a week by having breakfast at home. It’s a lifestyle thing.
- I stopped spending on small stuff. It looks small, it’s less than 10 bucks. But buy 10 $8 items and that’s $80 bucks, repeat that for 4 months and that’s $320 that could have been saved. I stopped buying small stuff I didn’t need and only got them cause they looked cute. That habit was bad and it was one of the biggest reasons I kept blowing money everywhere unnecessarily..
- Stop going to bazaars if you know you’re gonna spend. Don’t go. Don’t browse cause you’re sure to grab stuff. Unless your self control is amazing. Mine’s definitely not. Stay off Carousell, Zalora, Asos, Aliexpress, Ebay, Amazon and Taobao/Ezbuy…
- If transport is a big issue in spending try getting concession passes. It’s 85 for uni students for a month of unlimited tapping (bus and train). Applying for a concession cards costs $23 and can be done at selected Transitlink offices!
- Have a coin box. It’s so primary school but it’s not a bad idea. Dump your coins in at the end of the day. It clears your wallet and makes your future self few dollars richer. Any savings program can’t be a bad thing. If you have many two dollar notes, put one inside. You’ll thank yourself later. I did that for a year. I got 100 bucks out of it.
That’s about all. Start small. It actually feels really nice seeing more money in your bank as you go along.
The last time I posted something it was December. It’s half of Sem 2 now and it’s been nothing short of a roller coaster ride as always. The first two weeks of the semester I struggled deeply with inner lack of motivation as I hauled myself back up from the pits of the effects of a bad result sheet last Sem. It was tough and exhausting beyond measure, seeing that I’m someone who gains my drive and motivation from within though it’s mostly externalized. It wasn’t a mere struggle but also a journey. I discovered the importance of rest and repose. Not just for the body but also for the mind. I think I went much deeper into painting and art, creating new designs because I was very stressed. As the weeks rolled on I saw myself running away from people more and more and I started to question whether there was something actually wrong with me because I never ran away from people. Church was literally the only place of refuge I found, where I could feel rested and not feel anxious and tense. I treasured church and the community so much more as I dealt with constant problems at home and in school.
One thing I kept alive from my new year resolution was to do QT. Thank God it’s still going on. I mean it’s March right and everyone probably still can maintain a modicum of their new year resolution but I’m really thankful for the grace to sustain it. I’ve been kept by it, kept focused, resolved and steady. Though I nearly collapsed internally not a few times, God really kept me up through people and in ways I never expected.
I’m going deeper into my modules. I really enjoy some of the mods and readings from them. There’s also the bad part where I realised I really can’t stand some mods but I have to do them anyway. That’s when I really pray for grace and patience. So it’s a learning experience.
One of the other things that kept my attention was also the weekly Bible studies I either had to give or partner with someone to give. It took up a large portion of my thinking time and stayed in my head a lot. Someone told me recently about objectives and how I should think about them when considering Bible studies and specific audiences. I think I learnt a lot about myself as well an in evangelising and speaking to other people.
In other matters, there’s still a lot of things to pray and worry about in some way or another. But a friend of mine was reading Philippians and it comforted her much. This morning too in my QT, psalm 59 the last verse mentioned that God is my Defence and the God of my mercy. It comforts and brings strength to think not on how I should solve my own problems but that God goes before us, if we are faithful and follow His Word.
Typing this while going for an exam is rather healing. Well… Might as well since the train is stuck at Bishan and it’s raining outside. Good reflection weather 😉
These are reflections on the last Impact of the Sem.
-Heavy religion related reflections-
Yesterday the songs were so hard to sing. When we started the first few it was already so cutting and hurting to know how much I grieved God’s heart by my actions of taking my life into my own hands. And yet for all that, He never let me go. He chastised me and made me realise what a fool I was and then showed me His way that was diametrically opposite to His.
Having said that, when I had to repent and let go, it was such a struggle. It was so hard to let go. I could not let go of my pride, and the idea of trusting in something that was intangible, someone that people said was powerful…I felt incredibly torn at my stupidity, I really wanted to trust Him but deep down I still thought highly of myself. But when Marcus said let go and let God, it just cut me once again. It’s not let go and let it die or let go and trust man, but let go and Let God take over the steering wheel of my life… He asked us what was the one thing that brought us peace and that we should take that and give it to God. I thought of productivity as my one idol. I could not let go of it. I let it define me that giving that up was giving a piece of me away. Feeling terrible for a good two weeks was terribly exhausting and disconcerting because I could not really do much things and I had no energy to live life fully as I usually had. But I tried to let go, I fought my desires to hold on and when Christ is Enough, by faith I let go, because it is when I surrender that I know Christ will heal my scars and take my heart and make it His again. The lyrics were so hard to sing because it sounded like it came from a very sincere person, someone who gave it all on the altar, but here I was stubbornly refusing the gift of His strength and life and choosing mine, my puny strength and clinging onto dear life over His might.
Anyhow, by faith I just sang the lyrics as a prayer.
Random quick post but I am very thankful for everything that has happened and is happening up to this week.
- For stamina to go on. University is madness sometimes I wonder how college students aren’t dead from lack of proper sleep, and overloading on caffeine. But we are. I am.
- For discipline. Thank God for this. For the ability to be on time, on task, to be fast and efficient.
- For good profs – who bear with my crappy consults and constant whining about this and that and for reading my outlines and answering my (useless) questions.
- For a circle (or circles should I say), of friends I can rely on. when I am down I know they are there I know I have people to rant to, I know I have people who would not just be there but pray with and for me, for people I know who love me more than I ever deserve, to always remind me of what I am as a person and tell me not to lose my identity in this world.
- For church, for those I meet weekly, who bring me back to focus on what my purpose of life is, to remind me of my niche in this world, of my passion and love for God, to remind me who I am as a Christian, that I am His and not anyone else’s. To remind me to be faithful and consecrated to Christ. Also, for my Christian friends, I am very thankful for all of you.
- For the chances and opportunities given to me – clubs, societies, organisations, sports. places to grow, mature and understand the world and my society deeper and with more perception and gain experience in interpersonal relationships and leadership skills.
- For every other gift that I overlook in my every day life, for money and food and everything that has created a comfortable enough life for me to enjoy studying, for mom to provide me with whatever I need despite her difficulties, for a sister to love and care.
- One more thing I’d thank God for – is the gift of rest. This semester I learnt how to rest. As a workaholic it’s very difficult to not work and do something even if it be mindless tasks. Thank God for grace to CHILL, sleep, relax and be okay with that and not be guilty or something.
It’s been a great semester, a challenging one mentally, physically and emotionally. But unless we’re challenged, we don’t grow.
It’s been half a semester. Yes, it’s that fast, I’m starting to wonder where the first 6 weeks went. It was like a blitzkrieg in some ways more than one. I guess God answered my prayer when I asked to be pulled out of my comfort zone. I really got thrown so far out I had to come crawling back at times. I felt emotions I hadn’t felt in a long while during these 6 weeks.
I suppose the first thing I learnt is that I don’t understand people as I thought I did. I assumed that everyone would get me and understand me and that in turn I would be able to understand them and there would be a mutual understanding. The thing that weighs heavily on my mind and heart till today is that I may not have understood people as they would have wanted me to and instead I imposed my assumptions and mindset on them and that in turn, hurt them. I felt really bad about this as I thought about how I could have hurt people and unknowingly so. To be honest, I came to acknowledge that yes I was a fast, intense, and occasionally impulsive person. But I did not know that this was a problem for others, that perhaps they weren’t able to actually keep up, and I ignored that completely. I guess it’s still a learning process to understand that what my strengths are may exactly be someone else’s weaknesses and to grow as a leader, a person and a friend, I must be able to appreciate the struggles of others and adapt myself to them. In this way, I will be able to bring out the best in them without pushing them too hard and also without hurting them and making them feel inferior. I have a long way to go to improve in this aspect but hopefully I will learn it.
The next thing that happened this half of the semester was that God taught me sacrifice by making the people around me go through hard times. Making me go through hard times is one thing, I’ll probably respond by gritting my teeth and push on, and even if I broke halfway I’d still haul my broken limbs down the finishing line and crawl past. But when the people dearest to me that are around me are hurt or going through hard times, I start to realise I cannot help them even though I try, for various reasons, whether it is because it is just not something I can assist with, or because circumstances do not permit me to help them. But in these cases, I am forced and compelled to look to God in prayer. These 6 weeks I have to say, God was real-er than ever, there were nights I just lay on my bed and cried because I had no idea what was going on, I was tired of helping or trying to and failing, I was tired inside because the more I tried the more I failed (and either got pushed away or had to back off), and then I just felt exhausted inside, so drained deep in my soul. I think the only time I felt living waters pour over my soul was really when I went back to His Word and to seek Him. It was when I surrendered that I realised God led me step by step to do things in an unconventional way. He showed me that trusting Him started by being weak, being completely helpless and down and out and that was the only time I knew that I could not do anything – and then I looked to Him and He came to my help. So it became real because the next time I wanted to do the same thing, I tried gingerly to pray, not knowing if it would happen and it did. He proved to me that He was the helper of the weak, the One who brings those who fall up, ‘for when I am weak,then I am strong’. In trusting Him and giving more when I could not for His cause, He rewarded me with strength, blessings and joy. I am content.
I also started to also see the gap between Christian life and school life close, I have always asked God to show me that these two were not separate worlds, that there would be some form of link. I saw it these 6 weeks. I take 20th Century Lit, Postcolonial Lit, Feminism, Ancient Western Political Theory, and Intro to Philosophy. I came to understand what it really meant when I am brought up in conservative doctrines and tenets and then I get another framework of thought thrown at me and immediately there’s this natural repulsion that comes out of me when I realise that it is in direct opposition to what I learnt as a child. I get told in class that everything is a social construct, I mean sure, it is but a postmodernist point of view, and people be like ‘oh you don’t have to be so serious about it’ (yeah even that’s a POMO point of view) but then it is different and it is not just something that you feel the difference in the intellectual aspect but it is a lifestyle, a way of thinking, an attitude toward the world. oh well. I’m still negotiating those boundaries but God please give me grace to stay sound and faithful.
Lastly, these 6 weeks I had to learn to live my profession of faith. If I was serious about bringing people to the Lord then I had to live it out in my life. I was compelled to change certain behaviours that I strongly didn’t want to change because now I realised that it wasn’t just about me but that it was also about those around me. I made some changes that are hopefully for the better. I struggle daily but I need grace to be strong and act on those little convictions, praying that He will give me more. In my weekly Bible studies, I feel His love and grace shining on me, I feel His approval and I want to carry on, it is ironic how it seems like I’m spending more time on spiritual things and yet I find I rely more and more on the never ending Source of strength, my Saviour. I am grateful for the pain, for the lessons.
Just to end, let me quote Blessings by Laura Story
‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise
P.S. Recess week was wonderful, I was behind/in front of the camera for 4/5 days and I loved it, so much. Thank you all who were a part of that rest.
P.P.S It seems God approves this post, as I typed this last sentence, Blessings comes on in my shuffled playlist hehe
As if one miracle wasn’t enough I had two this week. It wasn’t large mind blowing or whatever, but small tokens of assurance, grace and encouragement. This week God affirmed to my heart that the God I believe in, He is real, true and powerful.
So many things happened this week which caused me to be grateful and which warmed my heart. DG on Monday was the celebration of mommaaaa Gaozxc’s birthday and it was a touching scene to see her really appreciate the gesture which not just us but the community did for her. It was really touching for me too, to see the way the community rallied around her, to write her well wishes and love her deeply. She’s an amazing inspiration and her heart seems to have no limits. Somehow God taught me through her life what it is to have humility. I’m an egoistic person and she taught me how to be humble and learn from everyone. I note how she learns from everybody around her, and that’s something so rare to find in our day and age where a lot of us are pretty obsessed with who we are and what we can achieve and I personally feel that my ego needs to take a beating sometime. Anyway yes I was really warmed by her. I remember the verse in Acts in which the Pharisees marveled at Peter and John and it was found and noted that they had been with Jesus which made them the way they were, it reflected in their demeanor. I need so much more of such experiences.
Secondly this week also we learnt how to be sensitive. There was more than one occasion where I had to learn how to exercise Christian sensitivity and understanding both to individuals and to a community as a whole.
Thirdly, my vision was rekindled this week. I was in the middle of sharing the gospel and things like this when I felt it occur to me what life really meant. I’m not discounting the worth of other experiences because I do go through many of them too and learn vital lessons but I felt God teach me that really I feel the most alive when I surrender faithfully to Him. I remember praying this prayer 3 months ago. I told God that I was going to willingly surrender a special friendship to Him, I was going to lay it on the altar and follow the Great Commission. Christ didn’t guarantee we’d be free from pain or sorrow if we obeyed Him, but He said He would be WITH US. That promise is true, real and alive. When I said I would surrender it all, I did, and I shared the Gospel unflinchingly, knowing fully well that it could go both ways. 3 months later God rewarded me, bountifully. One of the battles I had to fight internally with myself was that I was afraid this whole sharing the gospel thing would be a completely intellectual experience. That’s like partly the point but it would be not enough. But I ventured by faith. Then that day God showed me He’d been working through me and using me to breach barriers to bring Christ to the person. It’s such a great thing to experience something that you never knew would be possible, that you didn’t believe because you were faithless, that someone could be open to walking in Christ with you. It’s mind blowing. I am but in awe and wonder.
This week’s classes also augmented my faith in God because I saw how modernism and other 20/21st century philosophies and maybe even non 20th century ones were different from the values I upheld. It caused me to be thankful for what I have been brought up in but learn to keep an open mind to whatever I learn because it is not just a theory but it is a lifestyle and a mindset that one upholds. Nonetheless, this week’s classes were interesting and thought provoking. I hope for more of these, it makes me very happy I took these modules.
zzFor what it’s worth, I’d thought I’d write this. This post goes out to what I would call overenthusiastic freshmen. The madness of the semester has fallen onto you and you want to do everything. You see potential in yourself and so much ‘sparkling’ promise in every club’s booth you walked past during the Student Life Fair (of course this is an exaggeration) but you get me.
When it all comes down, you realise you have signed up for 5 clubs and God knows how many other events. What a treat. ‘Chill’ clearly is not in your dictionary and you’re on the cusp of doing just about everything you ever wanted to do.
Here are some thoughts in that light. Take this from me, I did more than 10 events in Semester 2 of freshman year, joined 3-4 clubs/committees, played sports, did fitness training… (and studied!)
Don’t short change yourself. Firstly it’s freshman year, you have a gradeless free year! Also, you should try everything and anything and get exposed to different kinds of interest groups, sports or committees. Consider your stamina and capacities but also never forget that university is a great place to push your boundaries and your supposed limits. People will often tell you that you’re crazy and too hardcore. Never sell yourself short just because people impose their limits on you. My advice? Just do it. Tell yourself that you’ll never learn unless challenged out of your comfort zone, then go the distance.
- Sleep. NO ONE in university actually sleeps properly or enough. Doing everything can be fun and satisfying, but without sleep you will not just burn out way faster than you ever thought, you would also be unable to enjoy everything to the maximum. Given that you’re doing a good number of things, less sleep is perhaps one of your options, but be sure to pay your sleep debt or it will accumulate over time and kill your body slowly.
- Have goals. Join clubs, interest groups or sports with those goals in mind. Join things with the intention to pick up a skill and/or gain something, like marketing, or publicity, or leadership of whatever sort you want to. If you join something for the fun of it, that’s okay but there is more potential for you to fulfill when you already tell yourself your purpose and goal in joining that particular thing.
- This is linked to 3 – join a diverse range of things. University is the last time you get to enjoy yourself before work comes and devours you. Personally, to date, I have joined a cultural club, a sports/outdoors interest group, an academic society and participated in external projects with another academic society. All these teach me very different skills in various positions with different people and their club’s respective aims, missions and visions. You will gain varied experiences and soft skills which will help you in the working world. Not everyone in the working world only looks for paper qualifications. In fact, many employers look for people who adapt well, learn well on the job, and have good interpersonal skills. However, if you believe that you should join one and stick to it all the way, do go ahead and do whatever makes truly you happy.
- Know your capacity. You might be a hardcore person, but we all have a limit, and the faster we know that limit, the better it is for us so that we can push ourselves while maintaining our sanity and health. Even though pushing beyond the limit is good, but it must be contained and you know yourself best. You have 4 years. You can find things you’re interested in, but you don’t have to do everything at the same time in the same semester. Push back some stuff because you can always come back for it later.
- Don’t forget you’re a student. Prioritize what you need to do, and when you need to. Play hard, but study hard too. Don’t procrastinate. Not only will a lot of things fall into place, you will find yourself having more time to do more things. If you want to do many things, spread out your work, and start your final essay or project as early as possible, NOT during week 13. Start in week 8 if you can. The faster you finish studying, the more you can play or do other things.
- Plan – please, please, plan. It is better to not rush around school. Planning is key. It helps with number 6 too, especially when the event is nearing and you’re barely studying, and you don’t actually remember your assignment is due the next day.
All in all, the learning curve for you as a freshman will be steep and experiences will be great if you make it so. Your university life is what you want it to be. So start this journey right, and for those who did not start on the ‘perfect’ note, it is never too late to try again. Mistakes will be an essential part of the journey, so go ride the rollercoaster of fun!