Ah, August, how I’ve missed you. How I’ve missed this month of fall colors everywhere you look, eau de Pumpkin Spice everywhere you sniff, and…an entire new Freshman class, shaking like fall leaves with fear and eager anticipation of everything that their first year at college has to offer? Oh, I remember those days well (hey, it was NOT that long ago, alright?). I spent many days roaming the hallowed halls of my chosen university, so eager to do well and set myself on the path to success, entirely uncertain at the tender age of 18, how to achieve that lofty goal.
And so, to ease our newest Freshman class into what could prove to be the greatest adventure of their lives, the #MuslimGirlClique offered up three key pieces of advice to guarantee a fulfilling first year of university:
1. Failure Is Your Friend
Don’t be scared to fail. I know it sounds easier said than done, but learning to deal with failure is such a vital life skill, and it took me far too long to learn that. It took me far too long to realize that failure isn’t something I should fear, but rather, it’s something that will help me grow. It offers the opportunity to learn the skill of re-routing, and re-adjusting—both vital for success in all that we do. I was always scared to fail because I was worried about my GPA, but not a single employer has asked me for my GPA since I graduated.
On top of that, whatever you do, do NOT be afraid to reach out for help whenever you need it, even if it’s just because you don’t know how to process what you’re feeling. Most academic institutions have mental health counselors to help students manage the momentous amount of stress we face, so take advantage of that—there’s no shame in it. Help’s there for a reason!
-Lana M. Waheed.
2. Take the Initiative
Don’t be afraid to try new things, or go after what you want. You have to take initiative if you want to get the most out of your experience. Want a campus job? Look for one. Want to try new things or get into research? Email around, and look for professors that can help. Fear and shyness will get you nowhere. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help! And find friends with the same major as you so you can do homework together, because misery LOVES company.
Try to find groups you can join. I found a great group of people in the Honor’s Program at my university! But it can really be any group of people you can relate to. There are so many options, and so many people you can be friends with! I have a crippling fear of failure, but I received really solid advice from one of my research faculty advisors. She said, “In the professional world, rejection is not personal..it’s not like asking someone out.” As funny as it was, that advice really helped with my anxieties over cold calling and sending unsolicited emails. It’s never as scary as you think!
3. Try It All
Try everything you can! I know it’s what a lot of people say, but I honestly met some of my best friends by trying new things or going to events that I was interested in. For instance, if you want to meet more Muslims, try the MSA. If you’re into Harry Potter or gaming, join the respective clubs!
My college actually has an anime club that has a fancy name, “The Society for Creative Endeavors.” When they first started, they didn’t get any funding, but being a part of this club has been such a happy experience for me!