Coming into Rensselaer, I was always told to explore and challenge myself, which were the most influential and constructive suggestions for my entire first year. Now, I want to pass the same words down to freshmen, which is really hard to do since the first year itself is already a big challenge. Keep challenging yourself and putting yourself out of your comfort zone. It can be extremely hard, from time to time, you want to step back to your shell. There will also be ideas that an academic-focused freshman year can offer a solid guarantee for a better GPA. However, regardless of all those utilitarian thoughts, great experiences and lessons will be absorbed from all the efforts, pain and discomfort if one dares to break one’s own bubble.
I put myself out there and tried lots of new things last year. I joined The Poly as an awful writer; I took Introduction to Engineering Analysis and Introduction to Management as an undeclared science major; I made every attempt to talk to different people, even as a person who is still shy in front of strangers; I received all those brand new experiences I had never ever had in my earlier life and thus gained bravery and confidence, as well as many opportunities and friends.
However, I feel something changed inside me this semester: I feel that I am not as fearless as I was. I feel that I am actually not able to do whatever I want. I start to sacrifice my interests and passion for something else. Intimidated by the academic pressure, I resigned from a club officer position and a research job this past weekend. I am afraid of these changes, but meanwhile I reflect whether it is a sign that I learn to drop things and step back when there is too much on my plate. Self-knowledge and self-confidence are both critical in building a person’s character; the most difficult task is to balance the two in the course. I used to awe programmers and web designers. It never came to me that one day I would major in Information Technology and Web Science. As I sit in two of my ITWS classes this semester, I am truly scared: I do not want to pose such trials on myself and go so far away from my comfort zone. I still have no idea whether I made the right decision or not, especially when frustration hits me in classes as I notice everybody else knows a lot more than I do.
According to Immanuel Kant, true freedom is to always follow the laws one imposes on oneself, instead of blindly pursuing pleasure and escaping pain. So, I assume that I should never step back because of fear, lack of confidence, or other extrinsic factors, but rather due to the change of my inner motivations and ambitions. Although bewildered and capricious, I will still listen to music, watch movies, read books, talk to my family and best friend back home, and keep thinking.