Sunday, October 1, 2023

Build self-worth and self-esteem

Dreamers “Just keep swimming” -Dory “Finding Nemo”
People constantly work toward one dream or another, but all college students are striving for a diploma. While in college though, many carry the attitude that they’ll only be truly happy when they graduate, get a job, get a house, a mortgage, a spouse, some kids, a dog and a white picket fence.

Why? While in pursuit of their dreams, people sometimes forget to enjoy the present moment. As students are under a constant barrage of pressure, it can be arduous. Maintaining a social life, finishing those essays, handing in that assignment, going to work, gathering members of a group project and collecting graduation credits can beat even the most durable students into submission. But, college students also experience a unique period in their life filled with new friends, partying, personal-growth and learning. During this distinctive time in their life, many students defer their true happiness to a time in the future.

A lot of students feel immense pressure to achieve and follow the mold of what society defines as success, but success is defined only by the individual. There’s no wrong time to achieve a goal. People my age, myself included, tend to have this notion that everything in life has to be figured out by the time they graduate. It would be convenient if our aspirations were so easily achievable, but life meanders along, and people take different paths. Samuel L Jackson didn’t lead a film until he was 46, Vera Wang didn’t design a dress until she was 40, Stan Lee didn’t create the X-Men until he was 38, Michael Jordan didn’t make his junior varsity basketball team and Morgan Freeman didn’t achieve fame in “Driving Miss Daisy” until he was 52. No one has ever been “too old” to achieve what they’d been aspiring to.

I certainly don’t have all the answers, nor am I in some constant state of zen while attempting to balance my school, work and social life. Doubt, fear, hate and sadness will always be present in life; but so will belly laughs, warm breezes, deep breathes, dancing, good food, friends, music, wine, naps, sunshine and unadulterated joy. Don’t defer your own real unencumbered happiness until after you graduate, and don’t feel like a failure if you don’t have it all “figured out” just yet.

Life goes on, people grow and change. Keep working toward a dream, no matter how far fetched it may seem. And if you ever feel suffocated by the constant hounding of assignments and pressure; step back, take a deep breath and just keep swimming.

Email Teresa Acierno at

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