Well here it is, my last column of the year. Crazy, isn’t it? How fast time has come and gone. I still remember sitting down to draft my first column, staring at the blank screen and flashing cursor. Typical me, I immediately became really stressed out and worried about what exactly I had gotten myself into. My ideas, which had seemed endless in the summer, disappeared in a flash. What could I possibly say to all you smart people that someone else hadn’t said better and funnier before? However, as with all things I developed a usual routine, scribbling down ideas in the margin of a paper I was working on or adding to my never-ending list of things to do on a pad of Post-it notes. From sharing mundane stories to recounting my pseudo-adventures throughout the week, each column has taken shape, and I truly appreciate your readership.
As I write this column I stand at the edge of a vast canyon. With my time at Concordia nearly done, everything that I have come to know and love during the past four years is suddenly about to end, with the future seeming like a scary black void, filled with uncertainty. If you’re like me, one of the many graduating without a definite plan in the works, things can be daunting and very intimidating. Naturally, at times like this there’s nothing that I’d rather do than run in the opposite direction. But all good things come to an end, regardless of how hard we try to prevent them from slipping away from us.
Like all seniors, during my time here at Concordia I’ve had the chance to learn lots of valuable lessons, things that I find too important to keep to myself and not share with you. While everyone’s college experience is truly unique, I’ve found that there are several unifying themes that can bridge our differences and bind us together. Thus, I will now transition to each senior’s obligatory list of advice that I hope you will consider during your remaining time at Concordia.
First, and probably not surprisingly, get involved. Find a club, organization or activity that can connect you to others that share your passion and interest in the greater campus or Fargo-Moorhead communities. Aside from the tangible benefits like resume padding and friend-gaining, being involved can provide you the necessary time to disconnect from the stress of classes and pursue something completely different. By no means am I preaching that everyone to go and audition for the choir or try and be on Residence Life staff or the Homecoming Committee. Those organizations are all well and fine, but the key is to find a group that provides meaning to you. Does that mean that it has to be a campus-sponsored organization? Absolutely not. Should you find that there’s a group of you that simply like watching “Veronica Mars” on Friday nights or having thought-provoking conversations in Atomic Coffee, more power to you. Think outside the box in terms of involvement. If you don’t feel at home in the group you’re in right now, there’s no shame in looking for something else. The key is to not overwhelm yourself. Concordia has so many options for getting involved, it’s easy to sign up for everything. Instead, be proactive in your choices. Like the old saying goes, “quality is better than quantity.”
Somewhat related, always remember that you don’t have to be friends with absolutely everyone. Although I encourage you to be social and participate in Concordia’s strong community, strive to find and forge strong friendships. Friends should be those that help challenge your beliefs, expose you to new experiences and provide a shoulder to lean on. Just like that clichéd line says, to have a friend you need to be a friend. Be willing to go that extra mile for those you are closest to when they need you. Take the opportunity to not only use these friendships to explore aspects of others, but also see how your friendships help you learn about yourself.
Also, try and take courses that you know will challenge you. Concordia is blessed to have strong liberal arts expectations built into the Core Curriculum. Although we all may complain about having to take so many different classes, realize how much better of a scholar you will be because of it. Find professors and courses that interest and test you, and those that will help you to make connections to issues going on outside of the classroom.
Finally, don’t take anything (especially yourself) too seriously. Give yourself a chance to have fun every now and then (responsible fun of course). Stay up ridiculously late watching YouTube videos with your roommate, go to Kroll’s on Shakey Mondays and, by all means, don’t worry about embarrassing yourself when having fun. Take time to be yourself and keep things in perspective so you don’t sweat the small stuff.
That’s all that I can think of at the moment. Of course there are literally hundreds of other things that I wish I could have included, but these seem to sum up the experience the most. By all means, if you take anything from my column this year I would hope that it’s the importance of the day to day. Sure life is full of milestones, but in the end it’s the funny things that can happen to us at Target or when crossing 8th Street that can define us. I challenge you to find ways to savor even the most mundane aspects of your daily routine, because before you know it, your time here will be gone.
Live long, and prosper. Soli Deo Gloria.
A senior majoring in Political Science and Communication, James hails from Omaha, Nebraska. He focuses primarily on the unique things that define our everyday lives.