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Questions to Ask Yourself in College

Shing Ann Yeh

As you’ve probably heard a hundred times from your parents, high school counselors, and older siblings, your college years are probably going to constitute the phase of your life when you are going to find out the most about yourself.  You’ll discover what drives you,  the people who will become lifelong friends, the path of study in which you’ll hone your skills, the hobbies you most enjoy, and the comfort foods you will run towards during times of great stress, like Finals.

The other day, I read this article.  The questions that the author posed are so pertinent for people of all walks of life, but are particularly applicable for college-aged folk.

1.  How are you doing? The typical, thoughtless answer of “Good!” isn’t good enough.  Really, how are you doing- physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually?  Don’t be caught up and become a faceless stranger in the sea of people.  Maintain your individuality.

2. Who is speaking into your life? The author of the aforementioned article posted these sub-questions as well: “Who is rattling your world?” and  ”Who thinks so radically that they give you a headache?”  You are going to be studying and going to many different types of classes, and you’ll be soaking in a lot of information.  Are there people, your professors or colleagues, who are challenging what you believe and think?  Oftentimes, when someone tests what you think, you dive in to find what why you have your own preconceived notions and either you decide, “Yes, I believe what I do because…” or “You know what, you are right, and this is why…”  (On a separate note, sometimes it’s a lot harder to say out loud the latter.  Humility for the win.)

On a non-academic note, another question the author posted was “Who’s correcting you when you need it?”  And I think it’s also important to have an answer to the question, “Who’s encouraging you when you need it?”  Having someone, or someones, in your life to be your support, both in the joyous and hard times, is imperative.  Older mentors are so wise. Other people’s hindsight can be your foresight. Are you learning from them?

3. How is your family doing? Going to college may be the first time you have left your family for an extended period of time.  For others, it is an escape from home.  But either way, your family is a group of people who you are going to be in contact with for life.  This NY Times article talks about siblings, and I found it true to what I was learning in HOD 1100. Family is a small, intimate group of people who understands those core values: where are you coming from, why do you behave the way you do, and how did you become the way you are now?  It’s easy to be caught up in college life with your new friends, but family is so important.  I need to catch up with my family more.

4. When is the last time you failed? You grow the most from when you fail.  Think about it: failing “gives you a chance to learn,” “increases your tolerance for failure, helping you not to become complacent,” and it “inspires others to take… risks.”  Let me tell you, it’s not hard to fail by your own high standards at Vanderbilt.  It’s how you deal with your not-perfect grades, your not-perfect relationships, your not-perfect life, and understanding that change is possible.  One of my favorite quotes by Winston Churchill is, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

These are some of my closest friends! Photo cred to C. Kassebaum!

I find these questions useful as checkpoints every once in a while, not only for myself but also to get deep with other people.  You may not know all the answers now, but it’s not out of your power to seek out the answers: find people who can pour into you, connect with your family, contemplate your failures and successes and how you got to those points.

Adopted from Craig Groeschel’s “4 Things I Want to Know about My Staff” on Resurgence.

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