The new-members in my fraternity are close to initiation, and being one of the “old guys” in the organization, I have felt the responsibility to impart some wisdom and guidance in the hopes that they walk a good path for the next four years. Notice how I said “good path” and not “right path”. I will explain later. For now, I’m going to share some of the same things I shared with them in the hopes that someone somewhere reads this and avoids a few of the trials and tribulations I’ve had during my four years.
For all of your life you’ve had a network of individuals and organizations influencing your physical, mental, and social development. These include but are not limited to your parents, grandparents, peers, teachers, coaches, teammates, etc. They taught you things like how to pee in the toilet instead of your diapers, taught you how to shave, taught you right from wrong, taught you to be respectful and chew with your mouth closed. More than that though, they shaped your personality. You subconsciously adopted habits, moral views, and professional sports team affiliations. They may not have known you were picking up on it but you were. Now stands you, a 17/18 year old product of the conscious and subconscious efforts of the people closest to you. You are about to embark on the most important journey of your life: the transition from adolescence to adulthood. And you’re going to do it alone. The intimate contact you had with your high school teachers will diminish as you enter larger college classes. It is still possible to have those kinds of relationships, but it will be more difficult. Unless you plan on playing sports or joining a musical organization, you will no longer have coaches providing not only technical sport instruction but valuable life advice. The most important influence, your parents, won’t be there either. All these factors have contributed to the total equation that is you. And when you step foot on Purdue’s campus freshman year, the majority of these factors will no longer be there to shape who you are and who you become. This leads me to the juiciest part of my blog so read carefully:
YOU are now the single most important driving force behind your development. Now more than ever will the choices you make have an incredibly profound impact on who you are. Because when you make a bad decision, all those people I listed before won’t be there to correct it. YOU are now responsible for who you become. It is up to YOU to make sound decisions. In my 3 and a half years, the best way to go about doing this is to be critical. Don’t align yourself with someone’s political or social stances simply because you want to be their friend. You have the power to say no and explain yourself. If they don’t like it, BIG DEAL, there are 40,000+ other people here to be friends with. READ BOOKS! Educate yourself outside of the classroom about pressing social and political issues, so when it comes time to discuss them with someone, you can have a well-thought out opinion. TALK! Without talking to people, you won’t have the skills to convey that well-thought out opinion. Spark important conversations. Get others thinking! The world would be a better place if everyone spent more time reading and conversing instead of watching TV and playing video games. And I promise you, after a while, you will become so much more enamored with intelligent conversation than you ever will be with any video game or TV show. That being said, keep an open mind. If the person/people with whom you’re talking have a strong opinion, don’t simply try to argue! Attempt to understand why they think the way they do and hey, maybe you’ll change your mind.
OK now I’m going to explain the “good path” versus “right path” thing I mentioned at the beginning. Everyone is unique. With an infinite number of factors influencing your development for the last 17/18 years, there is zero possibility that anyone is exactly like you. The path you take has and will be a different path than someone else’s. Don’t ascribe to a certain set of behaviors and habits. Be yourself and respect others for being themselves. There is no “right path” because invariably every person’s path is different. If you take pride in your work whatever it may be, have respect for everyone, think critically, expand your social network, and most importantly have fun; there is no doubt in my mind that you will walk a good path.
— Patrick Davis, Senior, Movement and Sport Sciences