August 26, 2014

WEISMAN | (Cheesy) Advice from a SWUG and Taylor Swift

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When I told people I was going to Cornell before the fall of 2011, everyone said that college — specifically Cornell — would be the best four years of my life. Cornellians told me that I picked the perfect school and that I would absolutely love it. Whenever I expressed worry, people told me that if there were ever moments that I didn’t love college, or if I ever had problems here, it would be okay.

Fast forward three years: I’m a senior, which is (unfortunately) my class year, but also the abbreviation for Senior Washed Up Girl. One of the first SWUG activities my roommates and I have participated in was Sunday night of Orientation Week — during which we watched the VMAs (MTV Video Music Awards), sat on the couch and drank wine. Contrary to popular belief, my favorite part of the VMAs was not Beyonce, but Taylor Swift. As Taylor proudly sings in her new song, “The haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.”

In addition to being a self-identified SWUG, I would also label myself an avid Taylor Swift fan. I admire her confidence, sense of self and, most importantly, her ability to change.

Taylor Swift has received a lot of criticism for her newfound confidence, different sound and supposedly “contrived” public character. Originally criticized as a shy country girl with no personality, she is now scrutinized for her self-confidence and supposedly promiscuous dating life. I wonder if she would be as constantly made fun of or judged if she were a man, but that is a topic for another column. If you have not heard her new song, “Shake It Off,” many people say that it is too pop to sound anything like her traditional sound. Most recently, her performance on the VMAs has been criticized for showcasing the new, changed Taylor Swift.

As both a SWUG and a Taylor Swift fan, I believe that Taylor’s “Change” is not only a good thing, but her change can help me explain what I think is my best piece of advice for freshman (and anyone else who wants to listen): Cornell is a place for you to change. While everything is going to be okay (I promise it will), you need to be the person to make that change in order for it to happen.

Although my time here on the Hill has been amazing, it has not been perfect like everyone said it would be. There have been setbacks, challenges and crossroads. And even when everything wasn’t okay, everyone said that it would be soon. Sometimes, I took this advice a little too literally. People would say everything would be okay, so I would wait until it was — until the problem passed. Usually, I have found, that does not work. In fact, the times that my life here has gotten better were when I actively made changes, not when I waited for them to happen.

I have also resisted change because I thought I would be judged for it. Instead of pursuing a major I wanted from the beginning, I was nervous that I would not be taken seriously enough. As a result, I was stuck in classes that weren’t for me, and I regretted it. I didn’t even need to do something as drastic as changing my major at the time, but if I had taken the initiative and spoken to someone about it, then maybe things would have been different.

Like most seniors, I have grown, learned and made mistakes. I’ve made friends, switched majors, gotten involved on campus, added minors, dropped one of them and countless other things that have not only shaped my Cornell experience, but also have shaped me. I am not the same person I was when I stepped into Low Rise 7 for the first time, just as Taylor Swift is not the same girl she was when she hit the country music scene. While I can stress the importance of not waiting too long to make positive changes to your Cornell experience, Taylor can illustrate why you should not be afraid of those changes, and why the criticism you may receive could never outweigh how much the changes could impact your life for the better.

So as you embark on this new era of your life, don’t be afraid to take initiative. Don’t be afraid to change your major, or make new friends, or switch dorms. Don’t wait to take a class you desperately want to take now a different semester — take it now. Don’t put up with a bad living situation or an unhelpful advisor. If something isn’t working out for you like you thought it would, don’t wait for it to pass. Make a change, talk to someone, ask for help. And above all, don’t let the judgment of others influence that change. This is your only undergraduate experience. As cheesy as it sounds (hey, it is my last first week of school, I’m allowed), if you want to make the most of it, you’ll have to take it into your own hands. Live it up, and remember: “The haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.”

Samantha Weisman is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She may be reached at [email protected] A Weisman Once Said appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.