Editorial Notebook

It is okay to change your expectations

During high school, I had a crystal clear picture of what I wanted to accomplish in college. I wanted to complete a dual major, get involved with research, and get a part-time job or paid internship to help pay for my tuition. I had been so set on these goals that they had become the main deciding factors in where I chose to attend.

After only my first semester at Rensselaer, I couldn’t help but feel I had gone astray. I felt as if I had lost sight of why I had come here. I wasn’t actively looking for opportunities for jobs or lab openings. Certain classes became hard to schedule—for example, my biology lab sections and my computer science classes would clash—which made me feel like I was falling behind on my dual major.

I still wanted to achieve these goals but I found that managing time became a lot harder in college. My homework and studying took up more time than I had anticipated and I joined clubs unrelated to my preset goals. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough and that I was just wasting my time focusing on things that would get me nowhere.

It wasn’t until I talked to my old high school teacher during Winter Break that I realized I was being too hard on myself. My teacher told me to take a minute and think about the things I accomplished in the last semester. It was a simple question but it helped me put my choices into perspective. I had unrealistic expectations for myself to complete within one semester. I realized that I was far from achieving my goals because they take time and effort. I had forgotten that struggling is part of the journey. I may not have made a lot of progress on my predetermined goals, but I hadn’t wasted my time either.

I joined The Polytechnic, learned how to cook for myself, and began taking a self-defense class. These activities were a way for me to explore my other interests outside of my academic ambition. They fulfilled areas of growth for me in which academic courses could not. I realized that not every decision I make has to contribute towards a goal I made a year ago. My goals can change and that’s okay. I should follow what my present self needs instead of trying to reach an unattainable target that my past self had set.

If there is anything you should take away from my experience it’s that you should not be afraid to let your goals evolve. Sometimes diverging from our high expectations allows us to focus on more realistic accomplishments. It is okay to change your expectations.