Sometimes, life at Cal can get busy—really, really busy. As students at the number one university in the world, it’s only logical that we dive right into our college experiences, immersing ourselves in academics, clubs, work-study jobs, intramural sports, student government—the list goes on and on. We live for involvement, thrive on competition, and frequently excel at pulling all-nighters to compensate for our tendencies to over commit… Okay, maybe that last part is just me, but I guarantee every Berkeley student has experienced this at least once in his/her college career. It’s inevitable. Where there’s success, there’s hard work. Where there’s hard work—yup, you guessed it—there’s stress. While I admit, I occasionally fall victim to that characteristic midterm season stress, I heard something today that completely changed my attitude.
While my roommates and I were having lunch at the Golden Bear Café, a group of fellow students walked up to our table and asked to join us. Of course, we welcomed them, and after a few brief introductions, we all got to chatting. At first, the conversation was nothing out of the ordinary. Jane,* made a comment about midterm stress (to which my roommates and I nodded vigorously in silent affirmation). Then, John* made a comment that surprised us all.
John looked up at us, smiling, and replied, “You can’t complain about Berkeley. You’re blessed to be here and blessed even to be able to work hard. Take advantage of it, because working hard at a university like this is a privilege.”
That was it—the epiphany struck and my mind was blown. All of a sudden, it was like the clouds parted and beautiful rays of sunny understanding began showering down upon us, bestowing enlightenment and elation. Okay, maybe that description was a bit dramatic, but believe me, John’s comment struck a chord in me. It reminded me that no matter how difficult balancing time may get, and no matter how much stress may accumulate, going to school at UC Berkeley is an honor, an adventure, and most importantly, a privilege.
After some reflection, I’ve realized since coming to Berkeley, I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zones, I’ve broadened my worldly understanding, and above all, I am genuinely happy and grateful for the opportunities this university has presented me. It’s truly a wonderful feeling to have my fellow students supporting me and reminding me of the monumental significance of self-care—a vital aspect of mental fortitude that often goes unchecked. Not only am I constantly exposed to peers who encourage my intellectual growth, but I am also surrounded by remarkable faculty who inspire and enable me to make a positive impact on the world.
Being around a community of driven and passionate individuals has reignited my spark—it inspires me to work harder, be stronger, and strive for a more enjoyable, more fulfilled life. It reminds me to savor all the positive vibes Cal presents, including the tiniest of details. There’s something unique and extraordinary about every day here, and I’m happy to share this experience with all my fellow golden bears.
*names have been changed