When​ ​You’re​ ​the​ ​Only​ ​One​ ​Without​ ​a​ ​Game​ ​Plan

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Here​ ​at​ ​UCLA​ ​every​ ​person​ ​you​ ​speak​ ​to​ ​has​ ​a​ ​”plan.” ​Your​ ​peers​ somehow all top class rankings and burst at the seams with talent and resume boosters. When​ ​geniuses James Franco roam the halls as professors and incredibly accomplished classmates like Simone Biles and trailblazer Ralph Bunche sit in the same seats you do, you start to question how you belong in the same crowd.

Even the general population seems to succeed at higher rates than normal. Most​ ​people​ ​at​ ​UCLA​​ ​tell​ ​you​ ​that​ ​they​ ​aren’t​ ​doing​ ​much​ ​of​ ​anything. “Oh you know, I feel like I’m not doing enough. Compared to everyone else, I really should be doing more.” They immediately follow this (possibly false) modesty with ​a​ long list​ ​of​ ​accomplishments: three​ ​internships and ​​a job​ ​at​ ​the​ ​Dean’s​ ​office,​ ​followed by their positions as the​ head of an honors society and the president of Student Government. The worst part? They still maintain their whopping 5.4 GPA and a healthy eight-hour sleep schedule.​

When​ ​I​ ​first​ ​moved​ ​here​, ​I ​constantly compared​ ​myself​ ​to​ ​others.​ ​Every​ ​step​ ​I​ ​took​ ​in​ ​my​ ​time​ ​​at UCLA​ ​felt​ ​wrong compared to the intimidating footsteps of my classmates. Classes challenged me more than I had anticipated.

Whoever convinced me to take a GE Cluster course had to be part of a larger conspiracy that worked to make the lives of freshman miserable. GE Cluster 70, a.k.a., The Cosmos Cluster, had exams that must have come through a wormhole. Each question was designed to wreck the hopes and dreams of innocent college students.​

After experiencing failure after failure, ​I​ ​didn’t​ ​feel​ ​the​ ​same type​ ​of​ ​motivation​ ​​ ​I​ ​saw​ ​in​ ​my​ ​peers​ ​as​ ​they​ ​sprinted easily​ ​towards​ ​their​ ​goals making college and, in extension, life seem easy.

They raced for presidencies, CEO positions and worldwide fame. Worst of all, they actually crossed the finish line. But I had trouble simply finding the starting line. ​It​ ​seemed like​ ​growth​ ​happened to​ ​everybody​ ​else​ ​except​ ​​​me,​ ​and​ ​I​ ​didn’t​ ​know​ ​how​ ​to​ ​handle that. And so I did what anyone else would do in my situation…

You could say I panicked. ​I​ ​spent​ ​huge​ ​portions​ ​of​ ​my​ ​time​ ​applying​ to Model UN, The Marching Band and even the Beyonce Club. I needed to do everything and anything.​ ​Even​ ​if​ ​the​ ​group​ ​didn’t​ ​interest​ ​me,​ I ​signed​ ​up​ ​for​ ​it, telling myself that it would be worth the resume boost.​ And ​for​ ​a​ ​brief moment,​ ​I​ ​felt​ ​like​ ​things​ ​were​ ​okay.​ ​

However,​ ​I​ ​quickly​ ​found​ ​that​ ​the​ ​feelings​ ​of​ ​inadequacy still​ ​lingered​ ​in​ ​the​ ​back​ ​of​ ​my​ ​mind. My activities didn’t align​ ​with​ ​what​ ​I​ ​wanted​ ​for​ ​myself. They took up all my time, leaving me with no chance to find what I wanted for myself. That exacerbated my problems and left me unfulfilled. It took me getting my first C on an exam to realize that things needed to change.

So I forced myself to sit down and make a list of priorities. I didn’t necessarily have a game plan, but I knew my objective. I started applying for and accepting positions that I felt aligned with what I wanted to do, but really winging it all the way.

The takeaway? Game​ ​plans​ ​provide ​a​ ​false​ ​sense​ ​of security​ ​in​ ​an​ ​ever​-​changing​ ​world.​ As a student, you have better ways to spend your time than comparing yourself to others and building a life around a resume.

Is​ ​my own ​​path​ ​forward​ ​clearer​ ​now with these realizations?​ ​No,​ ​not​ ​really.​ ​But now I have the reassurance that at least I’ll be happy knowing that I’m doing what I want to do.​

Third year English/Political Science double major at UCLA. Lover of high fantasy, science fiction, and small coffeeshops. Is aspiring to write the greatest series ever.


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