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Thursday, June 13, 2024

A Note to My Freshman Self

All PostsOpinionA Note to My Freshman Self

story | Regina Ng, Guest Writer


Dear Freshman Regina,

You know the thing they append to your name (Class of 2018 / ’18) when you joined the college? Well, I’m here now, in 2018. Yeah, so just letting you know that you will manage to make it to graduation.

Along the way you will find many things happened. For one, Donald Trump became president, Song Joong-Ki and Song Hye-Kyo got married… Oh, but your room will still be a mess.

The next four years will be incredible for you. You will grow, you will learn, you will find things that you realised had always been there but can be swept under the carpet no longer. At the same time, you will be confronted with many different things that challenge and construct new versatilities in you.

There will be days when you open your eyes only to want to shut them again (and roll around in bed some more). There will be days when you wish they served popcorn chicken more often in the dining hall (yes, this happened!!). There will be nights when you wished you had started earlier on the assignment (oh dear).

For all of those times, if you would allow me to offer some sagely senior advice:

  1. So Big / So Small

Here in this tight and small community, you will find the best cheerleaders, some of your greatest supporters who will come alongside you to make things happen. These include staying up together until the wee hours of the night to prepare logistics for events and passion projects, rushing assignments and preparing for exams together and small notes and gifts at the door to let you know they care.

Sometimes it may seem that the college gets a little too small for comfort. Before it becomes a totalizing bubble, I hope you remember how big the world is and why you came here, why you learn. I hope perspective will continue to give both you and me the strength to learn quickly and the courage to apply deftly and constructively in different contexts.

  1. Always Seek to Understand and See Clearer

The labelling and categorization of people begins now, in orientation and common curriculum classes. These can be helpful in getting to know people: their interests, their thoughts, their ideas and inclinations. By the time you reach senior year, some of these heuristics would have inevitably solidified.

But, as in life and throughout your time here, I hope you never shy away from difficult conversations and keep your heart open and hopeful to surprises.

  1. “We’ll See”

Remember this favorite quip of a friend of yours which you found unbearable for its seeming passivity? Truth is, four years in, you realize that these two words are sometimes the most apt response.   

Far from being passive, it can be active. It may mean giving people the space to process and situations the time to develop. It can be a form of self-care in acknowledgement of one’s limitations and life’s contingencies.

  1. Take Your Time

And wherever you may be, I hope you never disregard your voice and presence. Presence can, in many ways, speak more powerfully than the voice (OK maybe contestable in your case). I hope that you will take your time and stubbornly live each and every day to see everything eventually fall into place.

With that, I’ll see you in 2018. In the meantime, don’t try to avoid the Freshman 15, it’s going to happen and it’s only going up from there, my friend.

Senior Regina Ng


The views expressed here are the author’s own. The Octant welcomes all voices in the community. Email submissions to: yncoctant@gmail.com

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