The First Year Experience: Final Thoughts from a First-Year Moving Forward

By Melanie Biles '18
Design Editor & Staff Writer

Well, friends, this is it. The end. The last time I will spout snarky, irrelevant thoughts out onto this page and annoy half of you (but entertain the other half, I hope). Here we go.

This year has been a crazy rollercoaster ride with no safety bar and half the track missing. There have been times when I’ve felt like I must be the only person who has no idea what’s going on or how to deal with it and then realized that everyone else is just fantastic at looking like they know what’s going on. I’ve stayed up late to write essays, woken up early to work out (ish), found out what it’s like to share a living space with three other people who aren’t your family (hard, but worth it), and learned how to use an old-fashioned printing press. That last one might be specific to my experience. I really just wanted to brag about it.

In the fall, I wrote about ten things I had learned from my first semester in college. Though I think I could come up with about a hundred now, they all boil down to the same three rules for conduct in both college and life. What are they, you ask? Work hard. Ask for what you want. Be nice.

The first one is pretty self explanatory. Work hard, no matter what it is that you’re doing. Whether you’re writing an unnecessarily sarcastic feature in the newspaper, memorizing the earth’s major wind belts, or marathoning Parks and Rec from season one, dedicate yourself wholeheartedly and don’t stop until you feel finished. Finished and done are two different things, and you can most definitely feel done without ever having finished. If I have been working on something for hours and I don’t want to deal with it anymore, at that point I am done with it, but it may not be finished. If I work on something for hours and am proud of the result, knowing I could not have done more for it, then I am finished. The only way to finish anything is to work hard. Work hard at being a person you can admire, and work hard at every step you take to get there. Work hard to take fewer than two weeks to wash your dishes. Work hard to read more about things that interest you and have no relevance to your life. Work hard to embrace who you are and what you love and insert Taylor Swift into every conversation you have. Work hard.

Lesson number two: Ask for what you want. This is probably the most difficult thing for me, because I generally am not good at social interaction. I don’t like asking for what I want out of fear of doing the wrong thing, being rejected or finding out I’m not good enough for whatever it is that I want. Being at Scripps has taught me that I am my own biggest (and often only) advocate. Nobody else is going to fight for what you want, whether that’s a particular class that you didn’t have an early enough registration time to get or closure on a confusing relationship. There are some things for which you can’t work hard. For everything else, there’s asking for what you want. (Get it? That one commercial? Anyone?)

The most important, most applicable, and most general lesson is, of course, to be nice. This does not mean to be spineless or effete, which is a new word I just learned and plan to start using regularly. In fact, it just means exactly what it sounds like. Be nice to everyone you meet. You don’t know their story. Be nice to children. Be nice to animals. Be nice to people even if you think they don’t deserve it. Everyone deserves it. Be nice to your friends when they’re having a bad day and be nice to your friends when they’re having a good day. Be nice to people who are mean to you, because they probably need it the most. And, to effectively end this feature in the best way I know how, let me point you to an excellent Taylor Swift quote: “No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is an excellent legacy to leave behind.”