From Andrea Lirio
As the end of fall semester nears, one of my first college courses is also ending. The THRIVE seminar, a course that all first-years take to aid in the transition to college, is just 10-weeks long but we’ve covered a lot. We’ve discussed time management, mental health, the power of confrontation, and any questions we’ve ever had through our transition into college. In our most recent class, they gave us a worksheet with “Kick-Ass Questions About Life” for us to consider as we prepare to start our second semester. Here are a few of the questions:
- If you had a chance to be known for something special or unique, what would it be? How do you feel you contribute (or could contribute) to society?
- What is your biggest fear? What’s the thing that scares you the most in life?
- How would you define success? And what would success look like for you?
- Who do you want to help? Who would you like to inspire? Whose lives would you like to change?
- What do you REALLY want for your life?
The list of questions goes on (you can see them at the bottom of this post), and I didn’t know my personal answers to most of them. What did I REALLY want for my life? What would I want to be known for? Who would I want to inspire? I couldn’t bring myself to answer them. While I’ve thought about my future, I had never thought about it in those terms. Looking around the room, I wasn’t the only person who wasn’t able to answer all of the questions. I sat in shock. I didn’t know what I wanted to do exactly yet. I didn’t know what I wanted in life yet. These questions are hard for anyone to answer – a mother or father, a writer, a scholar, a doctor – let alone a first-year college student.
I still don’t have the answer to all of the questions, but that is ok! Normally, not having everything figured out causes stress; trust me, I know all about it. I try to plan my life to a T, but I’ve realized I can’t plan everything because, even if I do, life happens and my plan doesn’t go perfectly anyway. While it’s much easier said than done, I’ve tried to be better about managing the uncertain. The fact is life is uncertain and we have to roll with it. It would be nice if we could answer all of these questions confidently, but it’s natural to not have perfect answers that will reflect the future. The best part about asking these questions is that is gets your mind moving. Where would I like to be in 5 years? 10 years? What would I like to see myself doing? How does what I’m hoping to achieve relate to what I’m doing right now? I’m genuinely glad that my THRIVE has provided a space to ask these questions and begin answering them. We all came to the same conclusion that life is uncertain, but you should think of everything you do with some sort of purpose. How does what I’m doing now add to what I may do in the future?
I’m also glad and relieved that Bryn Mawr has provided a space where it’s ok to be uncertain. I wish someone had told me that more in high school. I wish someone told me that I couldn’t plan everything earlier on in life and then continued to remind me of that. For example, the college process is something I planned for forever. Where would I go to school? What college had the best courses for me? Where would the best environment be? I wish someone just sat me down and said, “Hey, finding the right place for you is a process, applying for different colleges is a process, picking a college is a process, living is a process, everything is a process.” This sounds extremely corny and cliché but here it goes: Everything is so uncertain, and it’s the uncertainties that make life so amazing.
While I don’t have the exact answer to define what my why is, I have the right tools to get me there. Take a look at the questions! They are amazing guiding questions to get your brain working. Keep asking questions!