Dear Freshmen: A Watched Passion Never Boils…Or Something Like That

Hannah Zeller, Writer - The Reporter

Dear Freshmen,

       I don’t know about you, but I dread those inspirational speeches given every so often, the ones that go a little something like “This is Mary Sue. Mary Sue loved math. Because she loved math, Mary Sue single handedly created an international program teaching impoverish gerbils to do calculus. Also she’s written three groundbreaking theorems and she’s out saving the pandas. You can be just like Mary Sue if you find your passion and work hard.”

       Now don’t get me wrong, I truly appreciate what people are trying to do when they tell you these stories. They’re meant to inspire and motivate; and for some students, especially those who already know what they’re passionate about, it can be just the push they need to accomplish amazing things.

       But what about the rest of us? Students who have no idea what our passions are, or how to make the ones we do have work in practical ways. At least in my case, these speeches can have an inverse effect. They make me feel like somehow I’m behind in life, that I should already be figuring out how to change the world in my own special way. I find myself wondering why I’m not doing more, why I haven’t crammed my schedule hour-to-hour with activities, going out and raising money or awareness for one cause or another. There’s so much more I could be doing in service of something, so why am I not?

       This feeling can be suffocating, but it can also be enlightening. So maybe you don’t know what your passion is yet. I certainly don’t. Maybe you haven’t started your own company, or created a movement to clothe homeless porcupines. That’s okay. What’s not okay is just sitting around, pondering life, waiting for a passion to smack you in the face. It’s like the saying “a watched pot never boils.” If you’re waiting for your passion to fall in your lap whilst binging entire seasons of Parks and Recreation on Netflix, it will never come to you.

That being said, you don’t need to completely overcorrect. Taking on twenty different positions in organizations you have no interest in won’t help the problem either. The solution is in finding a balance that works for you. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone, but know your limits. Take advantage of the fact that you’re in college, because there is a wealth of opportunities here on this campus that you won’t find anywhere else. If you think you might be interested in something, go after it. Some of the most incredible opportunities I’ve been given this year are the result of a single email expressing interest in an organization. It’s never too late to get involved, organizations are almost always looking for volunteers/members in some capacity, and if not, they can give you information on when you can get involved.

       Or maybe you need change in your academic life, and that’s okay too. A friend of mine changed her major five times before landing on one she really loved, and that was all in her first two years of college. Stetson has an amazing set of advisors that can help you take control of your academic path, and I can personally attest to their ability to help you shape your degree into something that encapsulates all of your interests and goals. They can help place you in programs you might not even know exist, helping you get even closer to finding that passion.

If anything from this letter sticks with you, I hope it’s this: be scared, but take the leap. If you already know what you’re passionate about, that’s fantastic. Dive in head first. Even if that passion changes twelve times before you get your degree, be invested in it. Don’t be afraid to “nerd out” over what interests you, I promise it will be so much more beneficial than trying to play it cool, and you will get so much more out of it that way.

If you haven’t figured out what your passion is, that’s okay too. It can be terrifying trying to put yourself out their, but nothing ever comes from hiding. Be open to new opportunities, and take them, even if you’re scared. At the very least, you’ll learn something that you didn’t know before, and that’s really what college is all about, right?

                                                                               As always, Your Fellow Freshman,