So you might be questioning the purpose of workshop week.
Well, I will start by telling you that I feel the same way, did feel the same way, and have felt the same way. Often times, as you go through these first few days, each of which feels like an eternity, you find yourself wrought with anxiety about what your classes and schedule will be like once this is over, if your early relationships will last, and when or how you might be trapped in your next 5-hour session of my least favorite game, ‘Truth or Dare.’ So, I am here to offer some unsolicited advice about what might be going on in your head:
Firstly, please stress less about your newly constructed persona. I am fully aware that you, like everyone else coming to a new school and whole new situation, realize the value of a fresh start. That is a good thing, but before you become riddled with self-doubt the second everyone starts to introduce themselves with a list of accomplishments first and their name second, remember that absolutely no one else knows what they are doing either. I say this so you know that there is no need to elaborate or construct a new personality for yourself. It’s okay. Even if you do not spend your time telling everyone about the books you have read and the awards you have won, it does not mean that you have not read those books and you have not won those awards. Take a breath and acknowledge that it does not matter that you compete with everyone. Sometimes, acting like you are the person who accomplished those things speaks a lot louder than saying you have.
I do not write this because I think that I am above this or above you. No one is above the kind of insecurity that being around new people and being in a new environment creates. Although I hope that in some way reading this is enjoyable to you, I also hope you know that I am writing this with the understanding that I will read it more times than anyone else.
If you already know how to humbly present yourself and already have a reasonable mindset, then I would like to offer you one more thing to watch out for during this very long week: quick judgement. We, as people and as I am sure you are aware, usually have difficulty in new situations, especially as new as college. If you are especially like me, you have watched Youtube videos with college advice in order to counteract the first-year stress. Yet, I went and watched all these videos despite the fact that I already know the campus, so I would like to just be the one to validate your stress because we all have our own reasons for it. The type A stereotype that lives in me believes that somehow after I watch yet another video about the “Habits of Straight A students,” those grades will suddenly become more attainable. In reality, none of those videos will help as much as taking in the information when it is received. As my co-editor, Lexi, puts it, “Be more lax and just improvise. Fake it ‘til you make it.” A much more effective reality might be focusing on what is happening right now. However, I do not mean to suggest that shifting any of these thoughts is an easy task. Just do the best you can to try.
Regardless, my point is that, when people are scared, it is normal for any of us to make rash decisions about new people we meet because that is easy to do. I, for one, am known for my grossly jumping to conclusions off of little details. So, as a reminder to myself and anyone else who is choosing to read this, despite my complete lack of authority, I want to say that we should try our absolute hardest to let people compete and react and reinvent themselves, and just have enough insight to let them do those things because this week is not as big a deal as it seems.
Try to remember that these people are acting the way they are because they are also terrified. If you just wait to make your conclusions after workshop week, you will see how people change over time. That may not work out beautifully and sometimes people do not change in a way you would like them too. That is okay too, but judgement early on will not help that. At least give yourself enough time to meet everyone for real because no one is really themselves during workshop week.
I want to specify that when I talk about this kind of judgement, I do not just mean judgement towards people, what I am saying can apply to everything during workshop. Wait a week before making serious decisions about opinions on anything because it really all changes once classes start. The culture will change, so will your routine, so will the dorm life, and the activities on campus, and the activities off-campus, and even, dare I tell you this, the food. Give everything time, be adaptable, and try to settle into everything after week two.
For example, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted my schedule to look like and what clubs I wanted to join going into the first week, but needless to say, that did not work out. I spent a lot more of my time dancing on-campus rather than off and joined different student-led organizations than I thought I might. After the first week, the social circles around me shifted. This was not in some dramatic way, because it just happened naturally, because that is just how it is sometimes. None of this is to say that nothing will last, because I also know people who have stuck to that group with an unyielding force. So, once again, keep an open mind.
Just try to focus on taking everything in and remember all the workshop terms you can because they are, in fact, used in class. Open yourself up to new experiences and trying your hardest to learn what you can about your environment. Lots of people love their workshop week experiences, so just try to come into it calm and open! I hope you have a great time! Oh, and if you are curious, here’s a little of what to expect:
Winnie is the President and Co-founder of The Weekly Cad.