Give yourself the credit you deserve for your achievements

Written By Rachel Ross, Co-Opinions Editor

The end of the school year is about seven weeks away. Seven weeks. The type of day I’m having seems to determine whether that seems like a lot or a little. My feelings on the passage of time in general for this year have been a bit scattered; I can’t decide if it has gone by quickly, or slowly, or somewhere in between; I think it’s a mix of all three. Sometimes the first weeks of school, when I was trying to figure out my routines and how to navigate my new environment, feels like a lifetime ago.

Other times, it feels like I’m still in that phase. Yeah sure, I’ve figured out how to open the combination lock on my mailbox, a problem that probably shouldn’t have been as significant for me as it was, but I only very recently figured out the best day to do laundry in Lawrence Hall (I’m not saying which because I don’t need a bunch of people claiming that day as well). It feels real and unreal all at the same time to be nearly at the end of my first year of college. This phenomena has made reflecting on the experience a bit weird; sometimes I feel as though I’m in a wildly different place than I was when I started school, and other times not so much. It’s caused me to question if I’ve accomplished everything that I wanted to going into this year, or at the very least accomplished enough; it’s caused me to ask myself if I made the most out of everything.

The idea of Carpe Diem and seizing the day is one that I have carried with me since middle school, when one of my English teachers introduced us to the 1989 film, “Dead Poets Society.” One of the most famous scenes of the movie sees Robin Williams delivering a speech to his students about the importance of “Carpe Diem” and making their lives extraordinary. This idea of making the most of every day and appreciating all it has to offer has always resonated with me and influenced how I approach experiences and endeavors. However, as time has gone on, my definition of what it really means to seize the day and make the most out of something has shifted and changed; reflecting on this past year has brought the most recent alteration.

I sat with this question of whether or not I had accomplished everything I should have for a bit. In talking to friends, I expressed feeling as though I expected a moment before the end of the year where everything just snapped together, and I felt perfectly comfortable in everything I had established here. The Dawson Leery in me wanted the standard hero’s journey arc, and the polished ending that comes with it. It took a moment for me to realize that just because you don’t get exactly where you want to in a given span of time doesn’t mean you haven’t made any progress at all.

I started thinking about all of the things I had done since August. For one, I started college, which is pretty major on its own for all of the transitions and adjustments doing so presents. I lived on my own for the first time, in a brand new city. I adapted to college courses and the work that comes with them. I took film classes, something I’ve dreamed of doing for years. I got to be a production assistant on a student film. I made new friends. I explored and familiarized myself with the area. The list goes on. Suddenly, I felt a lot prouder of myself and the year I’ve had, and the idea of this perfect conclusion felt less and less important. I felt satisfied; if there was a basis for how much a person is supposed to accomplish in a given year, I felt like I was in the clear. I felt like I hadn’t given myself enough credit before; I was too concerned with the things I didn’t do, as opposed to the things I did. This is exactly why I wanted to share this experience; to encourage others to reflect on the things they’ve accomplished this year, and make sure they’re giving themselves the credit they deserve.

No experience is ever perfect, because people are not perfect; throughout any year of school or life, there are naturally going to be ups and downs. When you’re first entering a new environment or situation, it’s going to be a little rockier than normal as you try to find your way and navigate through. I mean, finding your place in a new school or job or environment in general is a really difficult thing to do; you can’t expect yourself to feel completely secure right away. There’s still plenty of times that I miss home or family or friends; that’s not something that just goes away. But over time, you learn to navigate it, and establish a new ordinary for yourself that you can find comfort in.

You can’t be so hard on yourself to have everything sorted out by a certain point. The important part is recognizing the progress you’ve made, and being proud of yourself for it. If there is something that you wanted to accomplish within a certain span of time, but you don’t feel as though you met your goal, you can hold yourself accountable, but do so in a way that’s understanding and encouraging; that persuades you to try again in the future. Everyone, no matter what year you’re in, deals with a lot of stressful things over the course of a school year; take the time to congratulate yourself for getting through that big project, or huge essay, or difficult test, etc.

Everyone has bad times; it’s just a part of life. There’s plenty of days when I don’t feel like seizing anything except my computer to lay in bed and watch YouTube videos. I’m not saying welcome this every day, but rather to accept that there’s going to be times when it happens. For a while, I thought seizing the day meant you had to have some kind of wild, impulsive, grandiose adventure; if you didn’t find lost treasure, uncover a new kind of species, and sing on a parade float with Matthew Broderick all in one day, it wasn’t worth it. But now, I see seizing the day more as a collective. Sometimes it’s a bigger picture that you don’t see until you zoom out.

You’re seizing the day by getting an education and working towards accomplishing things you’ve always dreamed of accomplishing. You’re seizing the day when you get one step closer to finishing that big project you’ve been working on forever. You’re seizing the day when you discover something new about yourself and who you want to be. You can’t achieve something extraordinary overnight. Take the time to acknowledge the ways you work towards extraordinary every day, and give yourself the proper credit for it. Chances are, you’ve done more than you initially thought.