Building Good Habits

Looking Back: The Most Important Lessons I Learned in Undergrad #1 - Friday, April 2, 2021

The lessons I learned during my undergraduate studies…

The end of this month will mark the end of my undergraduate studies. What is usually marked by a symbolic walk across a stage in a robe and colourful academic hoods will be celebrated by opening an envelope containing the proof of my hard work and academic achievements. This pandemic may have taken the big ceremony and celebrations away, but it has given me time to truly reflect on my time at Queen’s. So here are seven lessons I learned during my undergrad….

1. Always ask for help.

You’ve probably heard this a million times “raise your hands” or “others probably have the same question” and I know this may seem easier said than done. However, although I struggled (still struggle to be honest) to get the hang of this lesson, every time I’ve asked for help, I did not regret it. My biggest fear was probably sounding dumb or professors thinking that I was and these thoughts definitely held me. I have had to learn that asking for clarification did not make me dumb but avoiding seeking answers for what I didn’t understand did.

Asking for help also applies to when you feel you may be struggling with any aspect of your life. When I started, I thought I simply had to struggle through hardships and just figured it out myself, but that should not be your only option. There are resources to support you on this journey through your undergrad, and I encourage you to seek them out.

2. Choose a major you TRULY enjoy.

Enjoying your major will 100% make the late nights, exams, and endless assignments worth it. It’s easy to fall into the trap of choosing a major based solely on career prospects, social acceptance and reputation. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t use some of these characteristics to make your choice but you should also make sure you choose a program that’ll let you explore as many interests as you can.

3. Celebrate your wins no matter how small.

This is pretty straightforward but important. Life moves fast, so take your time to enjoy the good. Celebrate the finished assignment, getting hired, a successful workout, sending that email that's been sitting in your inbox for a little too long. This way, you always have something to look forward to even when you’re going through a rough time.

4. Networking isn’t always a handshake and exchanging business cards.

Most of the “career advancing” connections I have were made through random bits of trivia, shared interests, and hobbies. I made sure that I built professional relationships with people through true interests in their work and not to tick off some box. This made networking feel less intimidating and more enjoyable!

5. Don’t feel bad if you need to shift your priorities.

Plans change. Personally, I think they’re meant to change. I have always been a planner, which isn’t inherently negative, however; I was very rigid with the steps in my plans and not allowing any flexibility. My undergrad experience (and the pandemic) has really pushed me to accept deviations in my plans and understanding that they are inevitable. I can’t avoid them, but I can work around them.

6. Off days will happen, dwelling on missed opportunities to study or work will not help.

Bad days and even bad weeks can happen. I found that I dwelled too much on those days that I cannot change, and I have learned that I needed to focus on regrouping, recalibrating, and move forward. This way, I focus on the tasks that can be done and avoid wasting any time.

7. Do not downplay your achievements and your potential.

You made it here for a reason. Your accomplishments, whether you believe it or not, are amazing and are proof of your exceptional skills and intelligence. Bad grades, all-nighters, and rough exams can make you lose sight of your potential but what is important is that you remember your worth.

These are just a few lessons that I learned, and I try to apply to my life on a daily basis. Keep in mind that I am not perfect, nor do I strive to be. I work hard to create the life that I want. This includes building good habits as well as recognizing that you are capable of reaching the goals you have set for yourself.

By: Anonymous