May 9, 2017

LEE | Reflections from a Not-So-Freshman Student

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People around me often ask why I’m so cynical, why my columns are always so scornful, why I view the world in such a negative light. Perhaps I merely think that there’s always something to criticize. Perhaps having been taught to ask questions from an early age has created for me a dismal view of the world. My pessimistic attitude may have stemmed from the dismissive remarks I read in The Sun’s comments section. Or maybe it’s simply due to my love for writing, which thankfully hasn’t receded yet despite the countless papers and essays I’ve had to write as an ILR major (which I think is equally “I Love wRiting” as much as it is notoriously known to be “I Love Reading”).

So for my last column as a freshman I thought I would try to defy people’s expectations and write a more casual piece because after all, I’m not so much of a doomsayer, really. Instead of talking about other social issues, I’d like to focus on my personal experience this past year at Cornell (although I might just end up critiquing again).

Looking back on my first year at university, there are so many things I wish I could redo and improve upon. Most of all, I wish I had better appreciated the people and environment around me. No matter how many times the upperclassmen have told me to enjoy the summer while it lasts, I didn’t know how valuable the sun was in Ithaca until now, as I take back out the winter parka that I hoped not to see again until December.

Besides the weather, I regret not having been thankful enough in general. During most of the school year, everyone, including myself, seems to be so caught up in their own academic and social lives that they don’t care to see what goes on around them. Only going back to North Campus from Uris Library at 4 a.m. have I really acknowledged the crisp sound of leaves swaying, the gush of the gorge in Beebe Lake and the weary looks of staff heading towards another day of work.

I wish I wasn’t so much of a procrastinator. Even as I write this very column, I know that I’ve pushed it off for too long, since I also have three assignments and four exams left to start studying for. The thing is, no matter how many times I tell myself that I’ll start work early, it still hasn’t happened. I thought it would be different in university. I thought I would be able to live up to Cornell’s prestige.

However, one thing I’ve learned in the past year is that Cornell really is what one makes of it. Not everyone has to stay on top of things. In fact, very few people actually do so. It’s okay to pull all nighters to finish up work while eating ramen. It’s okay to hang out with friends when you know you should really be studying for that prelim. College is so much more than exams and assignments.

Most importantly, I wish I would stop criticizing myself so much. Although doing so is constructive at times, it often ends in building up to my pessimism. I find myself caught up in an endless cycle of regretting past decisions, mourning over them and further delaying work. In the next couple of weeks and in the upcoming school year, my biggest quest is to widen my perspective. Rather than merely observing past faults in my own little bubble, I will search for remedies here, there and everywhere.

DongYeon (Margaret) Lee is a freshman in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She can be reached at margaretlee@cornellsun.com. Here, There and Everywhere appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.

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