Advice on Life, UVM, & College from the Graduating Boredies
The Bored Team is sending three of its members this May into the-world-after-UVM. Mel, Ruby, and Paul have been some of the faces behind the Bored calendar, blog, and social media for four years.
They witnessed the demolishing of the old CBW dorms and the building of the new Central Campus. They saw the coming and going of Yik Yak and the beginning of Tinder. They said goodbye to the breakfast sammies at Alice’s Café and hello to Skinny Pancake. They’ve been to 4 Springfests, eaten 45 FeelGood grilled cheeses, and collectively run up and down the Davis Center staircase approximately 673 times. It’s been a long haul.
Now at the end of their time at UVM, we asked them to share some of their insights, advice, and reflection before they head off.
In preparation of shipping up to Vermont for college, I remember my dad always telling me, in his joking-but-still-serious kind of way, “Don’t let college get in the way of your education.” Sure dad, whatever. I figured it was my dad’s way of reminiscing about the golden years and reminding me to not let the parties get in the way of my studying. Now, as a senior just 3 weeks away from graduation, in a generation experiencing more pressure than our parents did, I see this piece of advice in a whole different light – and I see how untrue it really is. When I look back at my four years at UVM, I try to think about what has taught me the most. I remember slouching over my laptop in the library reading about diminishing marginal utility and cost-benefit analysis. I also remember getting upset when my hard work didn’t pay off in my political science class – still my lowest grade in college – and still bitter about it. But while my classes were a source of productivity, purpose, fulfillment and of course, interesting and helpful information, I understand the importance of letting college get in the way of my education. Conflict resolution was a topic in my Marketing for Entrepreneurs class. I think I even designated an entire section to it for my final report. But when I think about my knowledge and experience with conflict resolution, I’m not thinking about my Marketing for Entrepreneur class. I’m thinking about the times when my roommates and I were on different pages with the expectation of cleanliness, when my group project members weren’t all available at a common time, and when I got so incredibly lost in the back roads of upstate New York driving back to school after thanksgiving break in the pitch dark with no cell service. I think about college, not necessarily my education, as this phrase would see it. The truth is that your classes are extremely important and will get you a degree, but it’s the relationships, the people, the experiences you share with those people, the internship opportunities and the real-world experiences that will add to your well-rounded development in college. At the end of the day, your character isn’t measured by your GPA but by your ability to connect to, engage in, and think critically about your situation, which doesn’t happen while sitting behind a computer screen. So yes, let college get in the way of your education. Join clubs, make friends, explore the college’s surrounding area, and get lost in the pitch black of upstate new york on your way back to school. Your senior year 3-weeks-away-from-graduation-self will be glad you did.
As I look back on these last four years, the most salient thing that I wish I had done differently was simply to care a little less. Not in a negative way—destroy apathy, find your passion, stay woke and all that—but just be able to be a little freer. To be less burdened by unnecessary worries and expectations. Don’t get me wrong, this is all important and meaningful and there are things that you should really care about in college, but now that I’ve finally gotten to the end of this road, senior year has helped me discover a slightly more relaxed attitude that has opened me up to so much more.
So, if I can give you all just one piece of advice as I walk away from Bored for the last time: let yourself care a little less. It turns out, nobody else is really worried about what you’re wearing on a rainy Tuesday in Old Mill. And if you don’t quite make it to an A or a B a couple times—it’s not actually going to be the end of the world! I spent years being petrified to speak up in classes, but the thing is, I’ve only just now realized that it’s no big deal if you say something silly or wrong once or twice—the vast majority of what you have to contribute is totally valuable and will make classes much more interesting to be in!
I know that this is all easier said than done, but to the extent that it’s possible, work on finding the freedom within yourself to give up those anxieties over what other people think of you. Don’t let them keep you from making the most of your college experience—whether it be putting yourself out there to try something new in a club or a sport, meeting a professor one on one, or asking someone from class to hang out just because they seem cool. For the most part, the only one judging you, is you, so as much as you can, try to let go, care a little less, and soak in this amazing town, this lovely school, and this beautiful community.
For most people, life is easily divided into sections. You have your early childhood, middle school, high school, college, your twenties, and so on, all neatly divided and separated. You can go even further and subdivide each of these sections until life becomes a glorified to-do list. Four years ago I knew exactly what I thought the highlights or goals of my “college section” of life would be. Primarily, I wanted to graduate, put myself in a good position to get a job in my next section of life, maybe make a few friends along the way. Anything that I didn’t see as contributing to the goals of my current section of life were a distraction. It was easy to fall into a pattern where the tedium of everyday life was just a distraction I wanted to speed through to achieve my actual goals. Taking out the trash, cooking dinner, doing homework, were all activities I begrudgingly performed all while looking forward to the next step.
It took me a while to realize that there wasn’t a next step to look forward to. I don’t mean to say that you shouldn’t look forward to graduating, or getting a job, or getting married, or whatever you want to do with your life. But try to slow things down. Don’t spend every day of your life looking forward to the next, excited to be rid of the present. Life is not a series of sections; don’t spend an entire part of your only looking forward to the next part. Everyone experiences their time in college differently, but this was how I began to experience it. All of those little things you have to do every day that maybe you wish you could skip, are your life! There is a way to find joy and excitement and feeling in everything you do, and I would advise you try to do that. College is stressful and hard and filled with difficulties, but not one bit of it is worth skipping. Keep your eyes open and remember that every second is worth living fully and consciously.