“The only way to move is forward.” That’s what I was told on my first day of college by my mother while I was clearly fretting about the idea of having to throw myself into a brand new learning environment. Looking back at that moment now, I will admit that it sounded somewhat dramatic and I was worrying a lot about something that was inevitable. I’m a flawed human, I will admit that. One example of this would be the fact that I’m terrible at accepting help. An experienced psychologist who was familiar with my circumstances could probably tell me why I hate accepting help but for me, I’ll just admit that I’m stubborn. In truth, it makes situations more difficult for me and those around me. When my mother talked to me about “taking steps” though, I realised that literally everything I was going to do once I got to Maynooth could only be a seen as a step forward.
When I say that, what I mean is steps backwards can’t happen; not that they shouldn’t, but that they are not be possible. Think about it – you’re here, in Maynooth, doing what you’re doing – and you’re doing it well. Each thing you do in life is a move forward. If you drop out of college tomorrow, that will still be a step forward because movement is inevitable and you can’t go back to the past; you can only be in your present. What I’m saying is that everything you’ve done has led you to here and everything you do from here on out will lead you to the future.
Welcome to the now, though. From here on out, you’ll be doing things ‘normally’. You’ll live your life and make of it what you will until you reach your next milestone. And the thing is, no one can tell you what a milestone is or should be. For some people, getting out of bed is a valid and important milestone and no one can say otherwise. The day to day routine of college or life itself can mean different things to different people and our differences should be celebrated. Honestly, I’d make that my routine for this year – accepting and embracing one another’s differences because when it comes down to it, we are all as lost and focused as one another, but in different ways. That’s the most important thing to me about Maynooth; the sense of fellowship is unique and special and while other colleges may stress the importance of planning regularity, Maynooth has an unsaid sense of togetherness. Be sure to be there for others and they’ll be there for you too. That’s the support that truly matters when you’re in college while you’re experiencing the workload and new environments. Make that part of your routine if you can, because we could all benefit from that from time to time.
My final parting words to everyone is please ensure you look after yourself. Mentally, physically, emotionally – college can be a harrowing time. It can hack away at your morale as you question your own ability. Please know that you are here for a reason and your own reasons should be enough.