By DEON THOMAS
I am going to start this column off welcoming all newcomers to Cornell University. This is a place where there are more distractions than newcomers. That’s both a great opportunity but a great danger. In this specific piece of writing, I am going to have to advise all of you to do something you were told not to do. That advice ultimately adds up to one thing: Be selfish! College is set up in a way that you will want to be popular; you will want to give your friends everything they could ever want or need. I will have to advise strongly against you. I believe that if you do everything to fit your own goals and needs you will end up having more friends and close confidants than you could ever want.
In order to explain this seemingly obscene advice I am so generously handing out to you, I will first have to explain what has taken place in my life these last few years. Coming out of high school, I was a tool. I know you have heard that epithet before, but I promise you will have a new definition of it by the time you are done reading this. A “tool,” according to Merriam Webster, is “something (as an instrument or apparatus) used in performing an operation or necessary in the practice of a vocation or profession.” Based upon my performance from freshman to junior year, I was exactly that. It was my singular goal to become well known and liked and I did whatever it took to partake that vocation. If my friend need something I did it, if my friends preferred one thing to another I did that one thing, if I knew someone would rather have something done a certain way I did what they would rather have done: I was a tool.
At the end of it all (my senior year) I realize I would do one thing differently. Nonetheless, mind you, I would still be a tool (please feign surprise). However, I would be my own tool this time around. I now realize that if you accomplish what you feel you need to, you will end up on top anyway. You need to allow yourself to trust your own judgment and intuition because at the end of the day, that’s what got you into Cornell. When your peers look at you and understand your purpose and demeanor, they will respect and adore you no matter what; unless they fail to be responsible for themselves. The only people who are jealous of other’s success are not succeeding in their own mind. Nobody completely satisfied with themselves can be truly offended by the actions of others. If somebody disapproves of you, make sure you are constantly evaluating yourself. But ultimately if you think you haven’t detracted from your own temperaments, talents and convictions, do not hesitate in continuing upon your path. Three years ago, I would change myself in for the acceptance of others and in reflection this has been my biggest and fatal flaw as of yet.
I once tweeted meanly about one of my friends, stating, “Who is a chameleon without it’s natural color?” and today I realize I might has well have been tweeting about myself. As Rosa Parks once said, “Stand for something or you will fall for anything. Today’s mighty oak is yesterday’s nut that held its ground.” This statement continues to stand true. In the last three years, I have fallen too many damn times, and I am ready to grow some roots. My biggest motivation was being well liked and my biggest downfall was the disapproval of others. However, that is not a way to live because, ultimately, I was living in fear. I will reiterate that this is not a recommendation to not become close to other people nor to detract from everyone around you. I am simply requesting that all your actions line up with your own convictions. I will also make one more demand: Make sure that you constantly criticize and grow internally, because if you don’t you be mature negatively, and that is the last thing that you need in your life. College is a training camp of constant improvement, and you must make the most of it because once you graduate you will never have another chance like it. If I were to sum up this lecture in a phrase, I would have to ask you to do what makes you happy.
Deon Thomas is a senior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s Not Me, It’s You appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.