(Written on December 31st, 2017)

This will actually be more like a personal check-in/ annual letter, rather than a post about living the “College Experience”. During my freshman year, a huge chunk of my personal development revolved around my adjustment process. I thought a lot about campus culture and social navigation, and took liberties to explore my philosophical side. As I sit down to write this post about my second year at Brown so far, it’s clear to me that, for the last three months, I’ve turned my lens of attention inwards this time. So there.

  1. Lesson learned: Stop being so easily intimidated by people — there’s usually no reason to be. By a lot of standards, I have the smarts and clout to be a fully competent adult by now. Though I know it’s true, I can’t help but find myself yielding to other, perhaps more accomplished, or simply older, adults. Fancy titles and prestige are signals of authority that I’ve never questioned before, but a few experiences this semester made me wonder if mindlessly conceding to that kind of stuff was doing me a disservice. I should probably trust myself more than I do now, that I’d be able to hold my own when it comes to work or grownup business. There’s nothing insolent about being able to look at someone in the eye. No one’s invincible, no one actually has all the shit in their life sorted out, and no one without huge veiny muscles and weapons should be that intimidating, I think.
  2. Family troubles and bodily injury punctured the bubble of invincibility I felt as a college student, since I was used to seeing nothing else but a future full of potential and limitless exploration. I don’t think I ever properly appreciated how precious and fragile my lifestyle currently is at school. This past semester, I had a few brief encounters with worrying family news, a knee injury, and some sobering realities here and there that yanked the rug of contentedness right from under my feet, when I least expected it. This was a stern reminder to me to not take the rest of my awesomely sheltered and warm (albeit short-lived) years at Brown for granted :)
  3. It was pretty upsetting to see certain people complain about being jaded and being existentially bored all the time. All of that made me want to hug my hobbies closer to me and always make time for a little good-old fun in my life. There’s something magical about doing the things that excite you and gazing at the world with fresh-eyed wonder that I don’t want to lose when I get older.
  4. I realized that I filter my words a lot when I speak to people. It makes me wonder if that makes me less authentic, or compromise my self-respect?
  5. Not a lot of things make me angry, but I’ve discovered one that does get me pretty fired up: idleness. I don’t judge people for the ways they choose to live out their lives. After all, I acknowledge that everybody’s different, and the world needs people who do life differently. But I do take issue with people who are patently dissatisfied with what they’re doing in life, have full agency and ability to take action and change things for the better, but choose to continue on living dysfunctionally and in denial. I hope I’m not the only one who feels this way…
  6. It feels so good to be self-assured about where I am socially. I have a close group of friends who I care about and who care about me, and it makes me feel so much more comfortable in my own skin. I certainly would not have been able to say the same about myself last year. I’ve also realized how important it is to surround myself with people who make me a better person. It surprises me sometimes how large of an influence one’s close friends have on one’s personal development. Borrowing a very appropriate quote from a friend: “Your friends are a reflection of yourself.”
  7. It takes work to stay curious and inspired. Last year, personal growth felt effortless to me, as I was constantly buffeted by new environments and new people, with Gloria-needs-to-grow-up experiences being constantly shoved down my throat whether I wanted them to or not. The stimulus overloading has since cooled, but sometimes I miss the richness of that crazy time. Going forward, it looks like it will take a little more effort on my part to keep the virtuous momentum going.

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Writer, Cog-Neuro Research Assistant @ Yale. Presenting my thoughts about self-development and life as a former college student || gloriawfeng.com

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