Hard working student. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

After a semester defined by a lackluster performance, remaining optimistic is seemingly impossible. I’ve learned this from experience. Spring 2017: a semester that taught me a lot (not in the classroom, however).

Although I learned from that turbulent time, I wouldn’t say that I have “bounced back.” The very phrase implies that I’ve returned to a place I once was. Neither have I ever been “back” nor do I want to go “back” to the time before that pivotal semester.

During my first year at UTSA, I fell in love with the fantasy of college life: absolute freedom unmoored from parental supervision, accompanied by an effortless, elegant academic performance bringing professors and classmates alike to their knees – my first mistake. In reality, I was not so deft.

That semester was filled with too many night outings mixed with procrastination – resulting in too many 8 a.m. alarms being silenced, leaving too many class assignments and opportunities neglected.

What happened?

My expectations for my first year of college did not match reality. I was apathetic and unmotivated. I did not find my studies particularly interesting and I lacked any gusto to earn satisfactory grades on my assignments.

I was not happy with what was happening and I was convinced I had unwillingly admitted myself into a statistic for college freshman dropout rates. After much self-reflection, I realized my college fantasy was bogus: there’s no such thing as a perfect college experience. Perfection, itself, is faux. I spent so much time fantasizing over something that was never going to happen. And here’s the worst part: I already knew this!

I knew it when I went out on nights before exams, and I knew it when I was procrastinating instead of working on projects or studying.

While I thought I was living a fantasy, I was subconsciously blinding myself from what was happening right in front of me: I was not happy with where I was or where I was going.

Furthermore, I interrogated the source of my apathy and questioned the things that genuinely interested me and I concluded they were not compatible with my major. From there my ambitions and goals shifted towards a new direction.

During this come-to-Jesus moment, I learned more about myself than any other period in my life. I’m not proud of that semester, but I’m fortunate to have learned some valuable lessons from that time.

Perfection is a perpetually insatiable concept when you want to be happy with your college experience. Therefore, if you spend your time obsessing over perfection, you too will find yourself insatiable.

I have not “bounced back” from my bad semester and I do not intend to do so. I plan to utilize what I have learned from that enlightening semester and move forward towards a future I am proud to be striving for. In college, we are in a constant state of learning.

Even at the most unexpected times, we are presented with didactic opportunities that can change our lives for the better.

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