Right now, I’m sitting in one of the last psychology classes that I will ever take in Stony Brook University. Although I should be paying attention to the lecture, my mind has been distracted with reflections of my time here these past four years, and thinking about my graduation in two weeks. It’s surreal to think that I was 18 years old when I made a decision that would pave the way and leave the foundation for the rest of my life. A decision that in the years after, some of the time seemed as if it might’ve been the wrong one, but has ultimately proven to be amongst my best. I can’t pretend and say that my time here has been perfect, but throughout the ups and downs, it has definitely been worth it. It seems that this school has given me as much as it’s taken from me and I wouldn’t trade the experiences, the people, and the time spent here for anything in the world.
Although I had many different options when I was deciding on a university out of high school, after coming to admitted students day in April 2013, there was no doubt in my mind. This week, all I’ve been able to think about is how fleeting it all has been. These past four years seemed to pass so quickly and here I am applying to a professional school and moving on to the next chapter in my life. Thinking back to four years ago, I remember clearly how nervous, but also excited I was to begin. As a freshmen coming in, I thought about the times to come, the classes I would take, the people I would meet and how it would affect me and my eventual goals. I knew that this university was a stepping stone and I knew that I would be impacted by it but I didn’t know the lasting impact it would leave not only on my life, but on my heart.
I’m going to talk about some of the most important things I’ve learned in my undergraduate years because I think there are some valuable lessons that are easy to forget.
- Difficult times will pass. Everyone goes through difficult times. Universities consist of people 17+ going through some of the most emotionally stressful things they’ve experienced. I’ve learned that although sometimes our problems can feel consuming, it is so important to be receptive and understanding of the idea that sometimes the only thing that can make something better is time and the only thing you can do is wait it out and surround yourself by people and by doing things that make you happier. Whether it has to do with family, school, other relationships, it does get better.
- In relation to school: you will get a “bad” grade or two. For those that are used to being at the top of the class/school, and for those that have been able to always do well in school with giving minimal effort, this one is for you. A lot of the time, students aiming to get into professional schools are constantly reminded that every grade matters and you have to get an A or your chance of getting into medical/dental/law school is going down with every point decrease. I’m not on the admissions committees for these schools but I can tell you that it’s okay if you’re not 100% perfect (disclaimer: I’m not saying that you can have a 1.0 and get accepted). More realistically, what I mean is that, one bad grade in your freshman year fall semester will not be the deciding factor of whether you get into the school or not. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try your absolute hardest because there are people with 4.0’s and if they can do it, so can you, but if it does happen that you try really hard for an exam and don’t do as well as you thought you would, try to accept that there was nothing else you could have done and take active steps to improve the way you studied. Being sad about it will not help.
- To add to that however: your self worth is defined by more than a number. I can’t emphasize this enough. This is something that I am still struggling with but this is perhaps the most important thing to understand. Your GPA matters, your test scores all matter but they don’t matter more than your mental health and YOU. If your mental health is suffering because of the importance you’re giving to being perfect on paper, please stop and reevaluate what is important to you. As a pre-med student, I understand that GPA and MCAT scores can determine where you go in life, and I won’t say to not worry about them but acknowledge that you also need to take care of yourself because if you’re burned out and mentally exhausted, how are you going to take care of someone else? This might not be a popular opinion, but I think it is important to not correlate your self worth with numbers such as GPA and test scores, because I promise, you’re more than that. Keeping that in mind will help you properly give the time and effort needed to keep everything in your life in check.
- Time management is a skill, not everyone is perfect at it immediately. It takes a lot of effort to understand what methods of studying and organizing work for you before you’re able to multi-task effectively. For some people, this comes naturally but for others (like me), it can take a long time to figure out how you study and what you should do to make sure you stay happy and healthy. Take the time to figure it out. If something works for someone and isnt working for you, maybe your mind doesn’t work the same way. That’s not the end of the world and you’ll eventually be able to handle multiple things at once but take it one day at a time.
- The friends you make during undergrad, might very well be the friends you keep for the rest of your life, so make sure they’re good ones. I don’t think I can emphasize the importance of good companionship enough, but this is one of the most important things that I’ve learned. It is so important to understand that the people that you keep around you definitely effect your personality in a huge way and your friends are probably influencing you more than you think so it is important to surround yourself with people whose characteristics you’d be proud to emulate. We can all learn something from someone else and grow in ways that we might not have even realized that we needed to grow through the experiences we have in college. While we’re growing, it is important to tell the people we love how much they mean to us because these friends (hopefully) will be the ones that you carry with you for the rest of your lives and there is no substitute for the memories that you’ll make during this time.
- You will not be the person you are when you’re 17/18 forever. The person that you are when you come into college will not be the person that you’ll be when you leave four years or so later. This couldn’t be more true for me. I like to think that my time at Stony Brook has made me a better version of the person that I was before I came here. I’ve made some of the most amazing friends, learned so much, and gotten closer to my religion alhamdulillah. Some aspects about myself, I never thought would be this way but I am so thankful. So it is important, in my opinion, to be open to change, externally and internally because you might surprise yourself with the way you’ll grow.
- You should work to effectively improve yourself everyday. With that being said, one of the things that I’ve learned is that noone is perfect, and no matter how great you might think you are, you can always be better. It is so crucial to work everyday to make yourself a better version of the person you were the day before. Whether that means being nicer, studying harder, or taking more time to relax, be able to reflect on the aspects of your personality that you can improve and actually take the steps to do it! You’ll thank yourself when you’re older.
- Be empathetic. I think this is the personality trait that if you don’t have, you have honestly nothing at all. I’ve learned that it is so important to be able to be empathetic about the situations that others face. Take the time to put yourself in the shoes of the people you care about and try to see things from their perspective. We don’t realize that our minds work in so many different ways until we try to be empathetic. Not everyone is going to get upset about the same things you do, or be happy in the same way you are. Acknowledge that but try to understand others in the best way possible, in the way that they want to be understood. I promise that this will give you a more worldly view and help improve your relationships.
- Materialistic things are not as important as experiences. THISSSS!!! It honestly took me a while to understand this because I love stuff lol, but all jokes aside, nothing can ever replace the memories you make with the ones that mean the most. Spend your money on experiences with your friends and family rather than waste it on another shirt or makeup you probably could live without. In 20 years, you’re going to remember how you randomly went out to a beach during finals week for a study break or how you spent four hours just talking to one of your friends about life because those are the things that are going to stick with you. Make memories that will carry you through your darkest times because everyone has them but happy thoughts can be the light at the end of the tunnel that you need in those moments.
- Take steps to get closer to Allah (swt), no matter what. This last one is one of the things that mean the most to me. One of the things that I am most thankful for at Stony Brook is the MSA. The sense of community that it has given me has brought me so much peace that I can’t express my gratitude in words. I’ve learned that any time spent trying to strengthen your imaan is time well spent, because your faith is sometimes all you have. I’ve learned the power of dua and the power of prayer in desperate times. I’ve always been practicing, but I’ve learned the way that closeness to your religion can move you and transform your life. Islam and the Stony Brook MSA has made me who I am when I will leave this university and I’m so thankful for the experiences that I’ve gained here that have made me a better person and better muslim. Take advantage of the opportunities you have to learn more about your faith and how beautiful it really is, subhan’Allah.
For those that read all the way up to here, thank you. All in all, my time at Stony Brook (and in undergrad overall) has been good, there have been bad times as well but all I can say is alhamdulillah because I am forever changed and grateful because of the memories. I can’t wait to see what the future will bring but I will carry this time with me forever. For those of you still in undergrad, cherish the years you have left because it truly flies and you’ll have to wake up one day and have to start adulting hehe and to those reading this that are also graduating, I wish you all the best with your future endeavors, congratulations to the class of 2017!
Lastly, here are some pictures of the people that have seawolfed their way into my heart. I am so thankful for you guys, I love you more than you know: