Ready for the (next) best years of my life

By DAVID SHIEH, columnist

Dear private notebook publication into which I pour my insecurities,

Is this the triumphant return of the beloved journal article format, or the tired revival of a tasteless gimmick to open an article? More importantly, who cares? Now that we’re counting down to our last days of high school, a lot of us seniors find ourselves stuck between reminiscing about JP Stevens and gleefully looking forward to beginning our first few years at X University/College/Institute.

It’s awfully early to actually start worrying about college as something other than the best four years of my life. But I somehow manage to do it anyway, starting off with my future wild-card college roommate. The underlying process seems simple — fill out a survey and get matched with someone who generally wakes up at the same time as I do. But I admit it: for someone like me, who relies perhaps too heavily on pre-arranged social groupings, and who will be attending a school best known for a famously awkward 3:1 male to female ratio, the prospects are terrifying. What if my roommate is just like me, and we don’t end up making any friends at all? Or, even worse, what if my roommate is the most popular guy on campus who goes out with his 2000 friends every night, leaving me in his trail of “popular dust?” Is such a walking case of social awkwardness even prepared for college? It’s easy for others to say that I can change, that it’s just a matter of a little self-confidence and a lot of socializing. It’s not easy for me, but at the same time, this is not who I want to be. Nobody in the world could wholeheartedly trust a doctor or scientist whose only mode of communication is by instant message.

Personally, I find it funny and just a bit  sad that I’m more concerned for my social life than my grades in college. Granted, a 3.5  GPA isn’t a piece of cake to maintain, but at least this is familiar to me. Learning has always been a constant in my life, something  that I’ve been familiar with for years and years, whereas I’ve only been thrown into  unfamiliar, college-like social situations a  handful of times. I still have that one  gnawing fear of being unable to keep up  my grades and being dropped from my  academic program. It’s a scenario that I’d rather not contemplate, and one that you probably don’t want to read about, either. But now that I’ve made this informal vow of self-confidence to myself, here’s my position on the matter. A very wise idiot once told me to follow my passion and to make it my profession. So, if I’ve been true to myself these past few years, then there’s nothing to worry about. I’m going to trust and follow that instinct, no matter where it takes me. Heck, this is college! It’s time to lay down all of these childish insecurities for good.

As a first semester senior, I’ve written more essays than I would care to remember, thrown handfuls of money at the College Board, and pulled the first all-nighter of my life, all to get where I am now: into a college with an acronym that sounds like a graveyard for dyslexics (RPI). Would I do it again? Sure, if I were a masochist. Which I’m not. Yet I realize that from now on, there are no more do-overs. So, future college-applicants and life-livers, here’s my final piece of advice: put your best work into everything you do, be it an essay or a job. From the second you set foot on campus to the moment you end your academic and professional career, there will be nothing to regret. Follow excellence and success will chase you, pants down.

This is David Shieh, one-year opinions columnist (that position is a sinecure, by the way; I am really just a staff writer,) signing off. Wait, do only editors get to write that?

Editor’s Note: David will be attending the 7-year medical program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute this fall.

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