Before I share with y’all what I have learned from my undergrad, I want to say that the advice I will give y’all also very much serves as reminders for myself. We are all constantly learning from our strengths and shortcomings everyday so inshallah (God willing) this post will benefit both y’all and me.
When I thought about writing this, I realized just how different I am now from when I graduated high school almost 4 years ago. In the grand scheme of things, 4 years doesn’t really seem like a long period of time, but when those 4 years encompass your undergrad, they really do change you. For many of us, undergrad was the first time we were apart from our families. Some of us even came to undergrad only knowing a handful of people or maybe even no one. I remember my first month of freshman year, I was SO homesick. And the craziest thing was that I didn’t expect that I would be so homesick. After all, I was living with my best friend in Austin and I could stay out as late as I wanted without having my parents calling me at 6:00 to come home before Maghrib (evening prayer) because thats when the “bad people” come out. Thats when I really started to realize the importance of calling my parents everyday, no matter what I had going on in my life. And I feel like once I left home, I actually became even more close to my parents, but that may have also been because my high school teen angst phase had ended. I feel like college is also the time your parents start becoming more of your friends. So my first piece of advice would be to call your parents every day, because trust me, without them you wont be able to maintain your sanity with all the stress undergrad brings.
So undergrad really is a stressful time. We are all trying to figure out who we are. And unfortunately, the decisions we make now will play a huge role in our future, especially when it comes to career choice. But we are also still young so we still don’t make the best decisions. That’s why I found that it is SO important to be proactive and talk to different people, whether it simply be other students, professors or career counselors. I actually started off my first semester freshman year as a premed student, but after taking Chem 1 and calculus I quickly changed my mind. I knew I wanted to major in psychology, but I was unsure about what direction to take with it. So I talked to career counselors and looked for research opportunities in the Psychology and Human Development and Family Sciences departments and solidified that I was going to be a Marriage and Family Therapist. Telling my parents my new career choice was definitely not an easy conversation to have, but when you really have a passion for something the people you love will see that. So that is my second piece of advice, don’t be afraid to explore different career options. There are SO many different things we can do to make a positive change in this world, so if you have a passion for something or even a small interest, definitely take undergrad as an opportunity to explore it because you wont ever have time once you graduate. But know that you have to be proactive and seek out those opportunities.
Lastly, I want to talk about loving yourself. Undergrad is a time where we do a lot of soul searching and that can really lead you to be depressed, feel like a failure, or just feel like you don’t have a direction in life. I want all of you to know that those feelings are normal, but you should not let them define you. As humans, we see the presence of God around us through his perfect creations, whether it be the trees, the clouds, or even the tiny little ants working together to build their mound. Sometimes we forget that we are one of those creations. It may sound cliche, but you really are a blessing and until you learn to love yourself you will have a difficult time truly loving others and being fully happy in your relationships. So my last piece of advice is to really truly love yourself, not in a conceited way but in a content way. Be happy with who you are because I guarantee there are so many things that make each of us special people.