I think one of my favorite parts about the Orientation office (Lattimore 210, for any of you lore-seekers) is the crash corner: A beanbag in the corner of the office for when someone needs a power nap or a place to decompress after an intense shift. It was set up on a whim before Welcome Week got into full swing, but I think it is very indicative of the culture we live in here.
You may have heard of the phrase “toxic Meliora,” the phrase we have for the overachieving culture on campus. Many students here do a lot, both inside and outside of the classroom. The motivation I have seen in our students is unmatched — people overload on classes, pick up extra shifts, and devour eboard positions like they’re at an all-you-can-eat buffet. In high school, you’ve likely done something similar. That’s why you were picked to come here — you have drive and determination, gall and grit. You’ve seen things in the world that you want to change and improve, and you are constantly pushing yourself to be “ever better.” However, being ever better doesn’t mean striving to do everything, all the time, better than everyone else around you.
While our open curriculum is a blessing in the way that it gives students the freedom and opportunity to pursue their interests, it can be daunting to see people pursuing double majors as if it’s the only possible way to graduate. I’ve heard many friends express doubts about their abilities and pitch double standards for what they can put up with as compared to their peers. I’ve done the same — this week alone, I’ve said that I could stay up later and work longer shifts than my colleagues for orientation events, and for what? My passion is proven enough, and yet I still find myself pushing further just because it seems to be the only way to prove that I care. I look at that beanbag in the corner every day and shake it from my mind in favor of doing more.
Reader, I can’t pretend to know what it’s like to be in your specific shoes. Many of you come from worlds I’ve never known, from hometowns I’ve barely seen on a map. However, you now belong here, just as I do, no matter what shortcomings you think you have or abilities you lack. This is a place to grow and to change, and the true epitome of Meliora is that change — that willingness to push through the discomfort, to face what you do not understand with an open mind, and to live each day with as much life as you can bear. This doesn’t mean doing more than everyone around you, just more than yourself. There is no one-upping in an individual game.
The biggest piece of advice I can give you over the course of the next couple weeks is one I’ll have to take myself, so we can do this in solidarity. Please, push yourself to take a nap. Retire to your room early for a day, even if you think you can stand to stave off the exhaustion through sheer adrenaline and excitement. This is just the beginning. There is no set timeline, and you are free to do as you please. Breathe in and take in your surroundings. Cry, if you want to. Transition, especially in a time like this, is so hard. Remember that nobody expects you to know anything, and that the people you think have it all together are also just trying to get through the day as best they can. Most of all, be kind to yourself. You owe it to yourself to be ever better to yourself.