{ Guidelines }

This is my FIFTIETH blog post! A landmark! (I also graduated this morning, which I guess is a landmark too.) This means I get to be insufferable and give you fifty pieces of unsolicited advice! Gosh I just adore special occasions!

No but seriously, I put some thought into this and I believe in what I've written; these are my guidelines for my own Oberlin life, which I have decided to share with you. Some of them, I learned here. Some are particularly important in this place. Some I struggle with here more than anywhere else. I've chunked them, in no particular order, into some relevant categories.
Feel free to add your own in the comments!

Without further ado:

P R I O R I T I E S
- Your mental, emotional, and physical health come first. That's not selfish, that's wonderful.
- Only do the things you can't not do. You don't have time for anything else.
- Stay away from anything that takes you out of living your moment. This moment. This one, right now.
- Sit down and figure out what's important to you, generally speaking. It's okay if that changes. Just keep track.
- Also be clear on what your priorities are for the coming week, and for the coming day. Be clear on what you're doing and why. (Intentionality is such a thing!)

W O R K
- Do your work outside in the sun whenever possible.
- Know your ideal working environment - study buddies? music? desk? cozy space? - and capitalize on it.
- Choose your classes based on the professor, not on the subject.
- Take on less work than you could.
- Schedule short, regular study breaks. Get up, move, stretch, eat a snack, remember that you are more than just a brain.

P E O P L E
- Your peers are all here because someone believed in their awesome. Train yourself to find and also believe in that awesome.
- Befriend your professors. Befriend your professors! Be friends! With! Your professors!
- Hang out with the people you want to become. I guarantee there are plenty of those here.
- Everyone can grow. Even that jerkface. Treat everyone like they have the potential for growth (because they do!).
- Recognize the humans here for the astronomically beautiful and helpful beings they are. Value no resource higher than these humans. Treat them accordingly.

E N G A G E
- Show up. Be present. Go to everything that interests you and a healthy amount of things you think you'll hate.
- Ask for help when you need it. Professors - and peers - can surprise you with their kindness.
- Say thank you. Every single day. Exercise that gratitude muscle!
- Listen more than you talk. Listening skillfully is one of the most important ways you can engage with the world.
- Teach. Something. Anything. A winter term, an exco. Be a writing associate or a tutor.

B E A H U M A N
- Sleep. Do not do the all-nighter. Do the sleep.
- Check in with yourself daily. What ails your body? Where is your mind? How are your feelings? Stay aware of your needs.
- Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself like you would a best friend. Be your own best friend.
- Create silly things! Write letters, finger paint, jam with friends, cook a meal... don't bother about quality. Quality is so restrictive.
- Seek balance. Extremes can be fun but are never sustainable.

G R O W
- You are changing, whether you mean to or not. Keep an eye on the directions you're changing in.
- Know that growth is nonlinear. You're going to frustrate and embarrass yourself. That's okay; it means you know what you want to be like and can see what you need to improve to get there.
- Be vulnerable. Sit with your pain. Figure out how to deal with your discomfort productively.
- Let your peers politicize you. Get angry. Learn how to channel anger into change.
- There is no such thing as closure.

S M A L L D I F F E R E N C E S
- Don't waste anyone's time, including your own.
- Smile when you pass someone on the sidewalk.
- Stay in touch with anyone and everyone you love.
- Take pictures. They will become so precious to you.
- Go to your friend's recital, play, show, whatever. Because you love them and because it will make you a better person.

C O M M U N I T Y
- Soak up the TGIFs. It is special to have so many Obies in one place, being happy together.
- Get to know the other majors in your department. Go for beers. Have study parties.
- Stay for a winter term or summer or both. Get to know the other Oberlins.
- Find ways to interact regularly with people who are not between the ages of 17 and 22. It will keep you grounded and give you perspective.
- Organize something yourself. Appreciate how hard it is; be proud that you got people together to make something good happen.

B U C K E T L I S T
- Go to West Side Market.
- See the Cleveland orchestra play in Finney.
- Join OSCA.
- Swim in the arb. Skinny dip at night if you can.
- Go to some kind of social dance. Contra, blues, swing, or whatever else.
- Do art rental.
- Spend time in the Allen.
- Take your fave profs to professor beers. Or the Feve. Or both.
- Go to at least one a cappella study break.
- Walk in the streets in the middle of the night. It's some kind of magic.


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{ Responses To This Entry }

Knowing that some of these points were really wrestled with and represent hard-won conclusions, this post strikes me as a beautiful gift for students just starting at Oberlin. I cannot help but wonder how we would have heard or read those comments when you first started, because there were definitely issues we considered and were left just wondering about. They may seem simple at first glance, but living these is another thing! "The proof is in the pudding"...I know these are right because you found so many fascinating and wonderful friends and so many people know and appreciate you! And so, while this may look like subjective reasoning,I think there is a lot of generally applicable wisdom here. Good job! Again!

Posted by: Muriel on May 29, 2014 11:04 AM


50th blog post! BIG DEAL. Graduation? Whatever. (I kid, I kid. Both are a big freaking deal. I'm so proud of you!!)

I really want to print out this list and hand it out to all first years. This is wonderful advice.

Also double moms in the comments what whattttt.

Posted by: Ma'ayan on May 30, 2014 10:58 AM


Awww you guyyyys. :)

Posted by: Ida on May 31, 2014 7:06 PM


that's pretty impressive. No, that's very impressive. Hitting so many nails on the head so early. And then (look ma, no hands!) cast in the 50 Things format.
-p.
ps. "Work outside in the sun whenever possible"? But, but Obieland is always sunny. I saw it!

Posted by: charles on June 1, 2014 5:21 PM


This is all really lovely and really true. The stuff on your list I already do I'm giving myself a pat on the back for, and everything else I will take to heart! I already miss you, and you should remember that you've taught a lot of people a lot of valuable lessons and this post sums up a whole lot of that. :)

Posted by: Andrea on June 2, 2014 1:32 AM


These are so great! I second and third the TGIF thing though. We were so insanely lucky to be able to hang out outdoors and drink a beer with a large group of friends every single Friday. It seems like such a simple, routine thing, but it gets so much harder to do that sort of thing regularly after college. And TGIF is just such an awesome celebration of your week. It's Friday afternoon. Of course you should be having fun!

Posted by: Sneha Narayan on June 2, 2014 5:01 PM


Gosh, look at this comment section collecting my favorite people! I'm gonna melt. This is the best. I love you all.

Posted by: Ida on June 2, 2014 5:57 PM




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