Such Sweet Sorrow
Commencement is imminent.
This transfer student is about to transfer out into not-student life. Was my college education worth it? Very much so. Here are ten things I have learned at Findlay:
1. Go to things and talk to people
I was worried that I would come to Findlay and never make any friends. Interaction is hard and scary for me. However, by attending events and joining smaller groups with Campus Ministry, I found a more personal setting that was comfortable. It still takes longer than average for me to befriend someone, but after two years of effort I have far too many friends to say goodbye to.
2. Oil painting is fun
I thought oil paints were for Leonardo da Vinci and other master painters. Because of all the specific equipment and chemicals required, I never had the resources to try it. I was surprised to find that I actually enjoyed painting with oils when I took Intro to Painting. Now I can get all my own equipment and chemicals with confidence, knowing that I will put them to good use.
3. Remember the Sabbath
Sometimes due dates won’t allow it, but I have found that, when possible, it is good to take a weekly break. Even taking just half a day to goof off or read a book or watch anime or talk to another human or do something unimportant helps me to work harder when I get back to my homework. Taking the time to unwind can make me more efficient in my work, and I can also use it as motivation to take fewer unnecessary breaks. However, be careful not to confuse it with general laziness.
4. Snow is cold
Especially when you’re barefoot.
To be honest, though, I was kind of sad that these past two winters were so mild. I still have never gone sledding. I still haven’t had a proper snowball fight, but I did build a hand-size snow bunny. I’ve found that I don’t mind the cold, but I haven’t yet experienced the painful below zero weather.
5. Do not write ten page papers overnight.
It is possible, but it sure doesn’t feel good. If such an endeavor is necessary, make sure you have a solid outline and stick to it. Take it paragraph by paragraph. Alternate options include starting your research when you actually are supposed to and writing a page or two over a handful of days.
My favorite story on this topic was my final paper for the Art of Disney class I took. I stayed up to write it. I didn’t finish it. I worked on it as my friend drove me to the airport. I didn’t finish it. I worked on it as TSA inspected my suitcase for a mysterious mass that showed up in the X-ray (it was just bar soap). I didn’t finish it. I worked on it as I waited for my flight. I didn’t finish it. I flew to Houston. I finished it during my layover there and submitted it. That paper got a 100%.
Academic reading is not exactly exhilarating. It requires time, but I have benefited greatly from reading what I want to read. This includes complete Popeye anthologies, Unicorn Comics, dumb YA novels, good YA novels, an artist’s biography, and Shakespeare. Also lots of picture books (it’s not like that’s my major or anything). It’s a good way to exercise the mind while also giving it a moment to relax.
7. Don’t forget to enjoy things
Once my friend and I spent an hour rolling a can of corn back and forth between us (as we talked). We were forced to stop when an out-of-control push sent the can rolling into the corner, where it somehow stood itself upright. We found this amusing. My point is, be present. Take pleasure in living. The college environment is unique, so enjoy it while you can. Appreciate the small things, like a friend who will roll a can of corn back and forth with you.
8. Find wise people
During college, there is so much more opportunity to interact with peers than with older, non-students. But some of my most enlightening conversations have been with people who have had more time to experience life, to study, to form opinions, and to mature. Find someone like this and ask them questions. Hear their stories. Weigh their opinions against yours. They have had more time to learn about life, and have had more time to come to sound conclusions. Be smart: learn from the wise.
9. Dietsch’s is the best
In Hawaii, a good cone of ice cream would probably be around $7. I was flabbergasted to learn of the low price and high quality of Findlay’s finest ice cream. Every time I go there, I am torn between getting my favorite thing or trying something new, because everything is so good.
One of my first Findlay friends, during one of my first weeks here, took me there for the first time. If you see a yellow pin on their map in the north tip of Kauai, it’s mine!
10. Be kind
We have all been told of the importance of networking. Knowing key people can help you get where you want to go. If you’re a jerk to everyone, your network may get smaller. But that’s not even really my point. Being kind can help and encourage others, just as kindness can help and encourage you. I appreciate small gestures, like the way most people on campus will hold the door for whoever is behind them. Insignificant-seeming acts like that can foster community and improve the general mood of a day. Whatever our majors may be, kindness is universally understood and will carry you far in life.
I have learned more than ten things while at Findlay. I could not begin to categorize and write them all down. College by nature is meant to teach, but I hope that even post-graduation, I will never stop learning. I want to keep talking, painting, resting, playing, reading, eating ice cream, and being kind for the rest of my life. As I start to put my art out into the world, as I work where I can to support my dreams, I will always remember where I’ve been and imagine where I’ll go. As Shakespeare said, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.”
But moving ever forward is such sweet joy.