College Advice

College is not a destination. It’s a stepping stone, a gateway.

You will never find your passion by analyzing your personality type, brainstorming, or otherwise “searching” for it. Don’t wait until the homework is done. Don’t wait until you know for sure. Spend ten minutes every day on a project that matters to you and only you.

Take time to digest. Half-assing things can be fun. Even necessary. But I challenge you to engage. Discern. Choose to listen or put in earplugs. When someone shares something with you, repeat it back. Come up with an example.

Drop out of college in favor of a life experience that’s a better fit for your present self. Come back later. You have permission to feel. Lost, lonely, confused, uncertain, scared, angry, unwanted, bad, sad, vulnerable, small. You are worthy.

There was no single day when any person or organization became the best. Albert Einstein, Muhammad Ali, William Shakespeare, Google, the U.S. Armed Forces, and The Beatles all had to persevere their way to greatness. So did your friends, the underpaid teacher who helped you in 5th grade, and grandma’s kitchen.

Lower your expectations. Set up reasons to say no.

Our brains like to flatten a complex world. Stories are never objective. Ideals don’t exist. Grasp reality and take a few stomach-churning bites. Don’t let anyone grind it up, add corn syrup, and feed you through a straw. Don’t go to the party in the basement. Your eardrums will never recover. Sneak onto the rooftop, and wonder at the stars.

Consider what you carry. You are strong. You can carry as much as you want. But what will your future self want to be carrying? Is it money, is it love? Everything compounds—more than you intuit. Extend your time horizon, think longer term, do some back-of-the-envelope calculations. Ask what’s essential. Your minutes today could be worth years.

Nobody becomes muscular in a single day, nobody becomes smart by reading a single book or taking a single class. But how will you run the marathon when you don’t show up at the starting line? When you choose not to even try walking the first mile? Don’t hit pause, hit play.

Excitement is motivating. So is the privilege of excellence. Recognize that space in between. It’s surgical recovery: numbness, prolonged agony, copious physical therapy, potential complications later on. It’s an ocean you must swim.

Success is 95% luck. Happiness is 95% attitude. Which is more likely to come first? Which do you want to spend your time trying to control?

Exposure, experience, and expertise are different orders of magnitude.

It’s OK to not have a best friend after freshman year of college. It’s OK to not have a summer internship. Love yourself unconditionally.

College is rocket fuel. Take advantage and point it somewhere. You might decide to change mid-course, but you have to get off the ground first. More than five feet.

Normal distributions govern physical things, and power laws govern human systems. In absolute terms, a few inches aren’t much. Yet they can be a multi-million dollar advantage for a basketball player.

Thankfully, we don’t all have to play basketball.

It’s OK to ask for advice. It’s OK to reject advice. If advice is helpful to you, then you aren’t yet doing. Those who do, don’t require advice. But they did, possibly yesterday. Maybe that advice is what changed them. Maybe they discovered themselves.

Were you listening?

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