“You do not play a sonata in order to reach the final chord, and if the meanings of things were simply in ends, composers would write nothing but finales.” – Alan Watts.
Since the beginning of high school, I had a four-year plan. I was diligent in choosing classes and extracurriculars to boost me above my peers and help me get into the university of my choice. My whole life I was told of the importance of public education and how without it life would be challenging. School, for me, has never been very difficult, but more or less a chore that lasted sixteen years. However, my journey turned out a little backward.
I attended an early college program, graduated early, attended a private university on a full-ride, dropped out of college, was forced back into college, and arrived at UNCW with a 4.0 GPA and a very cynical view of public education. The plan I had for my future was torn to shreds, and I had no clue what I wanted to do. My major had gone from Wildlife Rehabilitation to Business to Film and finally ended with Communication Studies. So, if you are anything like me my time within higher education has had its ups and downs, but Communication Studies provided some positivity within my two years here at UNCW. It helped me learn not only about the world/people around me but also about myself.
Here is what I learned:
- First off, do not let fear dictate your life. Overthinking is destructive and can lead to missed opportunities. Take a clue from Steve-O: count to three and just do it.
- Try not to think so far ahead, I know it sounds cliché to say, but…live in the present. If you spend so much time thinking about the future, you will find yourself looking back on the past wishing for something to change; which is just as toxic to your mental health as is assuming what will happen in the future.
- Surround yourself with people who challenge your perspective and if you don’t know something don’t pretend you do. Confidence is essential but be careful not to let your ego take control.
- FIND A HOBBY. It helps keep you sane and helps build new skills. When I dropped out of school, I explored many new outlets. I started to read more and research subjects outside of the normal curriculum. I was happily pursuing my own educational purposes, and it allowed me to obtain a job that I actually enjoyed.
At the end of the day try to realize that 99% of people have no clue what is going on. You don’t have to pursue something if you don’t want to and you definitely don’t have to follow a path that’s already laid out for you. Try to be realistic with yourself as well, not everyone will end up extremely successful, but find something you enjoy and pursue that passion. When I reflect on my years chasing a degree, I realize that I wasted a lot of time seeking approval over an assignment that was probably read over once and thrown away. I was afraid to do something else because I was unsure of what the outcome would be. I settled for my education, while I should have been chasing something worth living for.
– Christian Lombardi
The things you have learned are definitely some things that I can learn from. I believe that it is very important t just do things and stop overthinking. This is definitely some valuable advice.
I have friends who have had similar experiences to yours. I think your reminders are great. Especially not letting fear dictate your life and not planning so much! Thoose are two things I do, so I really relate to that. Thank you for the advice!
Christian, I really enjoyed reading your post! You are very articulate with your writing, and I honestly feel so much better about life after reading that. It does sound like you’ve had quite the roller coaster experience with higher education, but that’s okay. It isn’t always four years of smooth sailing like everybody makes it out to be when you’re young. When I was growing up, it was engrained in me that you would go to high school, graduate, go to college, get your degree, then get a job and start an adult life. I grew up pretty sheltered, and it’s been a gradual process of starting to realize that society shouldn’t dictate how I live my life. While I am really enjoying my college experience and working to get the most out of it that I can, I do think there were other avenues I could’ve taken that nobody ever really told me about. But regardless of that, I’m here now, and I love that I am growing and learning from my experiences each and every day. I appreciate you sharing some tidbits of what you’ve learned in your experience being at UNCW, and I hope you continue to grow and learn from your experiences. Let life be a journey, and let it take you wherever the wind may blow.
Christian, your advice is spot on. I have also found that the most valuable (and sometimes challenging) lesson is not to live in fear. I catch myself holding back in many situations because of fear. However, just like any habit, we can overcome it. As we practice, little by little, it becomes easier and easier to recognize when we are letting fear take the wheel. It then becomes easier and easier to take over and make decisions from a clear minded space, not a fearful one. Thanks for this post, I really enjoyed it.
I relate to this so much! I changed my major two times before I finally decided on Communication Studies, which is the best desision I’ve made so far in college. I agree that it is important to do what you love rather than do what you think is expected of you. I had my mind set on being a Biology major when I started college, and it wasn’t even because I liked it. I did it because I thought it would be the “smart” thing to do. Luckily, I quickly found out that Biology wasn’t for me. Of course, I still picked another major I hated after that, but eventually I found my way to Com, much like you did! Your advice is something that I (and every other college student) definitely need to be reminded of.
Christian, the advice you outlined in your post is extremely helpful and useful, especially since I still have a few years left at UNCW. Trying to constantly plan for the future is something I’ve always been told to do and forced to do, but coming into college changed that mindset, especially after changing majors. Having that mindset of finding what you really enjoy doing and then doing it- not necessarily always planning every step and being in the present- is extremely important.
(Oh, and as someone involved in concert band since middle school; I absolutely LOVE the quote you used at the top.)
I really enjoyed this post! As a sophomore here at UNCW it is really good to know that other people don’t find their way immediately either. I have changed my major a handful of times already but as soon as I got to COM I knew it is exactly where I need to be. This post just reminds me that everyone goes at their own pace and some things are harder for certain people than they are for others. I think the 4 things that you learned are really going to help me in the long run.
Christian, your advice is very helpful for people who haven’t graduated yet. College is a time to experiment and figure out who you really are so fear shouldn’t hold you back. No one remembers the stupid things you do years later. This post was an insightful read and I wish the best of luck to you!
Coming into college I had no idea what I wanted. In fact, I still don’t. Your post was very inspiring and made me feel like I wasn’t alone in this. It’s good to be reminded that not everybody knows what they’re doing. And, I need to just trust the process. Your advice was pretty spot on for my current time in life, and I appreciate it. Best of luck in your future endeavors!
This is so important. We can’t live our lives afraid to fail, we’ll never succeed. In fact, we are sure to fail if we don’t try. At least with trying, we allow the possibility of success.
I really enjoyed reading your article. This was extremely valuable to me as I am a rising senior and need to focus on the present before it is gone. At this time in our lives we are so worried about what is going to happen next, that we miss out on the things that are happening right in front of us. It is human nature to compare yourself to others, though everyone puts on a front that is more put together than they really are. Very informational, would recommend to a friend!
The four pieces of advice you gave seriously resonated with me on another level. I am very prone to overthinking and thinking about the future rather than what’s happening in the present. I seem to always forget that almost everyone else is in the same boat, not knowing what’s going on like you mentioned. I, too, explored multiple different degrees before deciding on Communication Studies, and now that I’m here I feel like everything happened the way it was supposed to, even though in the past I felt like I was chasing something that didn’t really matter to me. I’ve been getting a lot better about not doing something just because I’m unsure what the outcome will be, but I can still learn to let go a little more and just let things happen the way they’re meant to. Great insight!
Christian, I really appreciated your post. I get really got caught up in the big picture of graduating in four years, getting into grad school and being successful, and just don’t appreciate the small things going on around me. A big thing is me trying to micromanage everything instead of letting life happen, does that make sense? But really this a great post with great advice.
I can relate as I have also changed major from Business to Com. Your “Here is What I Learned” section was extremely helpful (especially #1). Fear is what holds many of us back however I believe you must get uncomfortable for true growth to occur. Do not over think and find your passion. I really enjoyed this post and congratulations on graduating.
Christian, your advice is awesome. I also have changed my mind so many times on what I want to do. I really liked your advice about finding a hobby, because my hobby helped my find my future career. I took a chance and lived in the present and found what I was really passionate about. This advice is something I think all students should read, not just COM majors.
Your post was honestly inspiring. Sometimes I whole heartedly agree that none of us know what we’re doing, and then other times I just feel like I’m personally behind because I don’t know what I technically want to do with my life. I was talking with my friend Jamey one time, and I asked him why he didn’t want to go to college. He said, “I’m not gonna go to college and waste 4 years tuition when I’m not even dead set on something that I want to do. I want to take my time to figure it out, then go.” I wish there wasn’t so much pressure on students to go straight to school, so we had more time to figure out what we truly want- to avoid feeling like we settled. Thanks for your post!
This was an awesome post! I really feel like your first and second lessons learned go hand in hand. Spending too much time trying to predict and plan for the future often lead
I’m so sorry, I posted my previous comment accidentally without finishing it!
This was an awesome post! I really feel like your first and second lessons learned go hand in hand. Spending too much time trying to predict and plan for the future often leads to overthinking, which can cause anxiety and fear. This is great advice for anyone to follow. Live in the here and now!
Everything you said is applicable to the time that I have had here at UNCW. I am almost finished with school and all of these bits of advice you gave looking back on your time at UNCW would have been exactly what I would have told a freshman that is coming into UNCW! Surrounding yourself with people that care about you and want the best for you is crucial! I have found many of these friends through the Greek life system! Thank you for this article, it is awesome to see that people hold the same opinions on how to achieve success at UNCW as I hold.
I relate to this so much. I had so many ideas about what I wanted my life to look like but I became bitter towards public education and it became hard to keep going (still is). But your advise and experience is amazing keep sharing this story.
I people are always watching and waiting on the future we forget to enjoy the now and that no one really has it all together and comparing yourself isn’t worth it.
Christian, your advice is amazing! I honestly can really relate to what you are saying, as a second year college student who thought she had her life completely planned out but in reality my plan completely fell through after my first semester of college. Going to college as a computer science major, hating it, going undecided, then transferring to UNC Wilmington and pursuing a Communication Studies degree is now where I finally feel comfortable and happy in my education. I actually feel as If I somewhat know what I am doing now, and all of the overthinking and anxieties associated with my education and future has slowly began to fade away.