A well-deserved and much-needed break was something all Cornellians experienced this past Thanksgiving. While Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks and appreciating the important people in our lives, it can be hard to deviate from the normal routine of things — especially for someone as routined as myself.
I was so incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to go home, see family and have fantastic food on the table. We had all of the Thanksgiving staples from cooked-to-perfection turkey to a delectable cranberry sauce — it’s safe to say that I was stuffed by the end of the holiday. Being home is always a pleasure, to get a good night’s sleep from my bed and wake up feeling refreshed and pressure-free is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. While I tried to keep in my mind that I should be grateful for the fantastic people and good food we typically don’t have access to as college students. I couldn’t help but give into these underlying cravings to get back on track with my routine, especially with finals around the corner.
With finals creeping up on Cornellians as the fall semester comes to a close, it can become easy to feel like you’re being thrown back into the academic world after having a brief Thanksgiving break. At times it can feel like things are moving too quickly to keep pace. I’m in a place in my academic life where I’ve finally gotten settled into this new environment, I have confidence in myself and my ability to succeed academically and socially — and yet this feeling of adjustment won’t last very long. It’s been frustrating understanding that although I’m sitting in a spot that I’m comfortable at, the next semester implies an entirely new schedule and routine.
The spring semester will introduce me to a plethora of new, unfamiliar coursework that will take additional time and effort just as they did the first time around. How can I continue to keep pace? What is so daunting about a new schedule? I struggle to fend off these often irrational, yet frequent thoughts that attempt to convince me of my incompetence. I’ve come to realize that it’s not the prospect of new courses and professors that frightens me, it’s the constant need to become familiar with change. I’m not too fond of change.
While change can be hard to deal with and largely overwhelming, only good things will come from change. If we become too comfortable with sitting in the same spot, unmoved — our lives can become boring, even dreadful. Previously, I’ve spoken of the bittersweetness that comes with change and the importance of welcoming these things that we tend to let consume our thoughts rather than running away from them. In doing so, I am making note of the things I can improve upon within my life in hopes of helping others navigate through the complexities of life.
This next semester, I hope to find myself a little more knowledgeable about navigating through unfamiliar environments and a little less afraid of taking risks. The first step I took toward further exploring my education by welcoming change was selecting courses that would inherently challenge me. I find that many new college students refrain from taking coursework that will negatively impact their GPAs and thus are missing out on the possibility of experiencing and learning about compelling topics. In the future, challenge yourself to enroll in a course that you would’ve never considered taking previously; engage with a professor that inspires you to go about your education in a way that uplifts you and encourages introspection. All it takes is a straightforward email to a professor conveying how they’ve inspired you as a learner, and something unexpectedly positive might come out of the gesture. Perhaps, showing up to office hours with the intention of having a casual conversation will demonstrate your engagement with their teaching.
This past semester, I challenged myself to take a course on U.S. healthcare policy taught by Prof. Sean Nicholson, health administration, and have no regrets about the decision. In this course, I’ve learned information that differs from my typical labor oriented content as an ILRie, and it’s been refreshing to have a professor that puts passion and time into his profession. Challenge and change are not mutually exclusive, by changing you experience challenges that encourage growth. By making concerted efforts to challenge yourself you become more familiar with change and can better keep pace.
Most importantly, don’t forget that you’re not alone. It’s not unnatural to feel like you’re the only one who is having trouble keeping pace whether it be with academics or your social life. There will always be on-campus resources at your disposal, but support can also be found in unconventional spaces. I personally find it reassuring to have a conversation on demanding or immediate stressors that are on my mind. Another way to find support is by finding core people in your classes to study with, or even offer you advice on assignments.
Keeping pace can feel close to impossible if you don’t know how to acclimate to new environments and deal with change, as long as you want to continue to do better these pressures will slowly start to subside.
Adam Senzon ‘26 (he/him) is a freshman at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He can be reached at [email protected]. My Two Sen-ts runs every other Tuesday this semester.