Take A Deep Breath

“The most dangerous risk of all– the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” -Randy Komisar

“Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity. What’s the point of being realistic? It’s unrealistic to walk into a room, flip a switch, and have light come on, but fortunately, Edison didn’t think so.” -Will Smith

“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” -Robert Schuller

If there was just one thing I could pose to someone in doubt or going through failure… it’s this: What is your purpose?
Now define that purpose and go out and get it. The meter is running.

Estoy Aprendiendo Español

As I write this, I have officially finished my first week of Spanish. I say finished, I mostly just mean muddled through. Every single day of the class I was lost. Our instructor is fluent. Most of the students in the class have had some background in it. Therefore, from day two the class has been taught in exclusively Spanish. There wasn’t a day that I didn’t want to cry because I had little to no idea what was going on. We had a homework assignment due at the end of this week that I just finished last night. Any guess how long it took me to complete?

Six hours.

That’s not distracted browsing on Facebook and pinning quotes on Pinterest work either. That is sitting down and focusing completely on the task before me. I am positive that I have never spent that long on an assignment- ever. In high school, I took difficult classes, but none that challenged me near as much as this class has and we’re “just getting started”. I am so far out of my learning comfort zone. Already, though, this class has challenged me to a broader view of the world.

Probably the third day of class my instructor, Señora Audas, came into the classroom a flurry of activity as usual. She pulled out her phone and started chatting excitedly in Spanish. She told a story with large hand motions and a smile in her voice. I listened intensely, desperate to understand. At the end, she and the majority of my classmates laughed. I wanted to cry. I felt isolated. I felt stupid.

You see, in high school, there weren’t that many times that I really struggled to understand a concept more than any of my classmates. If I didn’t get something- hardly anyone else did either. I graduated with a 4.0. I was part of the National Honors Society. I was an Oklahoma Academic All Stater. School was my comfort zone. Now, here I was completely lost. I had to take a deep breath. I had to remind myself to be patient with me because I am just beginning.

It hit me that there are so many incredible people who experience that every single day when they come to America. People who are stunningly intelligent and experts in every field with more knowledge than I could ever hope to obtain who come here and feel that same way when it comes to speaking English. I suddenly could sympathize (though my Spanish class is a substantially smaller scale) with those I see from other countries struggling to grasp the language I just happened to be born into. This moment reminded me to have compassion for those struggling at the post office, or at the restaurant, or even just in front of me in class.

I challenge you to do the same. Open you eyes and open your heart. Don’t take things for granted because you never know when you’ll be on the opposite side of the situation.


Cross posted onto my personal blog found here.

Life (Abridged)

Sometimes, very briefly, I forget that life (“real life”) outside of college will be much more volatile than the buffered life inside of college. I imagine myself completing my bachelor’s degree and going on to get a Master’s degree and possibly a PhD, and during these upcoming years of further schooling, I do not think that I will be exposed to the real world. During these years, I will continue to be a student, shielded by this identification that, for some reason, is often synonymous with not yet being established in life – An identification that seems to equate to a lack of experience in the world outside of a university or college. This is probably the case because it is true: traditional college students earning their bachelor’s degrees are typically very ignorant to the responsibilities and realities that lay just beyond the university dining hall. They (myself included) have not had the opportunity to experience real life yet, as they have spent most of their time within the relatively controlled environments of their college campuses. This is not effective, and in fact, this lack of exposure to the “adult world” may lead students to trouble in their transitions to employment.

Even as students develop independence as college freshmen, their gradual adaptations are tailored to their environments, which are the universities that they attend. Those who live on campus (particularly freshmen) could theoretically exist solely within campus limits, and some do. Food is provided and readily available (24-hour restaurants operate on OU’s campus), laundry can be done in the freshmen dorms, there are plenty of activities and clubs to participate in, and study areas are plentiful. A student’s entire life can be lived without ever leaving campus limits, and this has likely groomed at least some students to have warped perceptions of independence and self-sustenance.

During my first semester at OU, a typical day consisted of going to class, stuffing myself at OU’s Couch Cafeteria (home to a ridiculously wide array of unlimited food), doing a little laundry and homework, attending a club meeting, and passing out on my creaky, too-small dorm bed. I was unhealthy, inactive, and unaware that my world was very limited and that my life on OU’s campus was comparable to a rodent in its cage: restricted, controlled, and largely sheltered from the happenings of the outside world. Now, while I was not actually trapped, my point is that many students are experiencing an abridged version of real life on college campuses, and many of them probably know this and embrace it. It’s college. It’s not supposed to be like real life; in fact, it better not be. I want a few years of Level MEDIUM before beginning Level HARD. This is understandable, but surely there are ways to create a Level MEDIUM-HARD, so that students can be better prepared for life after graduation. At the moment, I am not sure how to accomplish this, and maybe it is impossible. College is not meant to simulate real life, but to prepare us for it.