By Jacqueline Hyman
Two years ago, I wrote my first column as editor-in-chief of Mitzpeh about the direction we were headed — an all-online publication with more social media and multimedia. I think we’ve done a good job of transitioning to a paper with no paper, and I’m proud of the website and content we’ve built over the last two years. Before that and since then, I wrote columns and articles about topics ranging from U.S. politics to religious diversity to campus news. Now, I’m graduating and headed to graduate school (still at UMD), so I figured I’d reflect on some things I’ve learned in the last four years:
- Getting into a groove is all it takes. Whether it’s exercising, doing homework, cleaning, studying or eating healthy food, you just need to develop a habit. If something is important to you, make it a priority and it will become routine.
- Stay involved in things that matter to you. Everyone has something they deem important, and in college that can often translate into being part of a club or activity. As a journalism student, being involved with campus publications has been a priority for experience and growth in my field, and I’ve loved doing this. But part of me wishes I had ventured a little more into my other passions. So don’t give up those kinds of opportunities if you think you can handle the time commitments!
- Sometimes, you just need good company. When we’re sad or stressed, we often turn to friends for comfort or a listening ear. But I’ve noticed that the company of good friends is really underrated and can help even when you didn’t know you needed help. I’ve kept myself so busy over the last four years that I probably haven’t had as much of a “social” experience as many people, but letting loose with friends — whether on your couch at home or at a bar on Route 1 — can be the ultimate pick-me-up.
- Do what’s best for you. This can apply to so many situations. If someone or something is upsetting you, just distance yourself. If you think you’re in a toxic or unreliable friendship, let that person go. If you are working a job that’s not worth the stress, quit. It sounds easier said than done, but once you do it, it’ll be so much better for your mental and emotional state.
- Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. Speak your mind. Let people know how they’re making you feel. Argue well and logically, and listen to others — they’ll take you more seriously this way. The alternative — staying silent — is much worse in the long run.
- Read the news. OK, I might be biased because I’m a journalism major, but I do think this is really important on at least a basic level. Knowing what’s going on in the world and your local community makes you an informed, global citizen who can contribute to society. Plus, it’s so easy to get news these days. Download a couple apps and get push notifications — or aggregate everything you want through Apple News, Google News, and/or Twitter.
- Take initiative. Be willing to go the extra mile, learn new things on the job and show that you care about your work. Ask questions. Be confident. Employers love when people are willing to try new things or ask for more to do. Peers appreciate the hard work their classmates do in group projects or study guides. Taking initiative is honestly just a good practice in any situation.
- Don’t be afraid to relax. We all want to succeed, and we should try our best. But if you’re so stressed that you feel constantly overwhelmed, if you’re throwing down coffees or red bulls instead of sleeping or if you’re working so many hours that you can’t focus on school — cool it for a bit and relax. Do something that you enjoy, or just get some darn sleep.
- Be patient. Don’t jump to conclusions. Try your best to flesh out problems or confusions before making assumptions. Be willing to wait for what you want, and don’t make others feel rushed or upset.
- Your kind words can really make a difference. Encourage the people you care about to make productive, healthy choices. Compliment strangers. Tell your friends and peers things you admire about them. These small acts can truly brighten someone’s day or help them feel better when they’re down.
I’m not someone who’s dying to stay in college (good luck to me in grad school) or getting too emotional about being done with undergrad. And I’m still working on all of the things I listed above, but I’ve grown as a person over the last four years, and I hope some of these tips can help no matter what stage of life you’re in.
It’s been such a pleasure working for Mitzpeh for four years and doing my best to serve the Jewish community. It’s going to be one of the things I miss most. I wish the Mitzpeh staff the best of luck in the future, and can’t wait to see what the future holds!
Jacqueline is a senior journalism and English major. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.