How to succeed in college without really trying

Gail Faustyn

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

A girl walks on to a college campus and has no idea what she wants to do for the rest of her life.

Seriously though, my first day on the IUS campus was an absolute blur. I remember it being close to 100 degrees out and walking up that seemingly endless hill between Crestview and the library. I was searching for the bursar office (which sounded like a made up word to me) heading in the completely wrong direction. I was hesitant to ask for help.

People were flooding me with information about UCards, parking passes, blue books, FAFSA and other essentials, I felt like I was in a foreign land. I had a map of the campus, but for some reason I couldn’t process the fact that classrooms that were in the 100s were on the first floor, 200s on the second floor and so on. I was lost, mentally and physically.

I wasn’t certain of much, but I was certain that I didn’t want to know anyone and I didn’t want anyone to know me. As far as I was concerned I had my friends, I had my family, and I was strictly here to get some sort of degree, though I wasn’t even certain of what that was to be. Drenched in sweat and irritated by how long it took me to find it, I walked into my adviser’s office, where she looked at me and said:

“So what’s your major?”

I almost threw up, partially from the disgusting heat, but mostly because I knew at this point in my life I had absolutely no marketable skills, but I didn’t want her to know that. I wanted to come across as someone who knew what she was doing. I looked at a book of brochures next her desk and meekly uttered “journalism.” I wasn’t great at writing or anything — it was honestly just the first thing I saw.

The coming months were super weird and pathetic. I ate lunch in my car, I avoided talking with anyone; overall I was neurotic headcase.

Eventually the clouds opened up, the gods sang, and a voice said, “Stop being weird.” So I did. I’ve now got a few awards under my belt, I’ve been granted freelancing opportunities, and I even was awarded journalism student of the year. I’ve experienced things that don’t seem real and probably never will.

It’s not like my life is some fairy tale where college just made sense all of a sudden and I became the most popular girl on campus and everyone lived happily ever after, because it wasn’t like that, at all, except in my dreams.

I could spout out advice like get involved, talk to someone you’ve never met before, read your school’s newspaper, but I’m not going to because someone else probably will.

Because this is my last column, because I’m finally going to walk across that stage at graduation, I’m going to tell you something that no one probably has yet: I don’t know what I’m doing, and neither should you.

Let’s get real sappy now.

Pablo Picasso said it best when he said “My mother had said to me ‘If you are a soldier you’ll become a general. If you are a monk, you’ll become the pope.’ Instead I became a painter and became a Picasso.”

I might be overgeneralizing, but I feel that everyone has a story similar to mine. Each person at one time or another goes through life feeling lost, but sometimes being lost is the best thing for you.

You find things about yourself that you never knew you could do and surprise yourself, and that to me was the coolest part about the whole thing. All you can do is try your hardest at whatever you do. You could fail or you could do great, but that is neither here nor there because you did what you wanted to do.

Overall college should be uncomfortable, because life is uncomfortable. People say you find yourself one day and that’s that. However, if I can be frank, that is a load of crap. There is always something to be learned, there is always someone to learn from.

Regardless if you’re leaving school grounds on May 12 or just moving on with your life, don’t be afraid to not know, because no one does.

“A man is a success if he gets up in the morning, gets to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do,” Bob Dylan said.

I’ll never forget eating lunch in my car and being terrified to walk that giant hill, because now as I graduate I’m afraid to walk down it and say goodbye to my life here at IU Southeast. I’m confident in saying that I’m not confident in what’s to come of my future, but I know enough to get me by.