5 things i learned in college
a helpful guide for the standard ambitious, driven, air-sign, ambivert UC Irvine student
From my own heart of hearts, these come from own experiences, dreams, and fears at the University of California, Irvine. Most of you may not agree with any of it, but I hope some of you will identify with it and help you with your own journey.
Lesson 1: “You can make more money, but you can’t make more time.”
If UC Irvine has taught me anything, there is always a catchy phrase that gets a point across. This one is at the top, right before, “Don’t yuck my yum” and, “What’s said here stays here, what’s learned here, leaves here.”
I was lucky enough to take two directing classes with Jane Page — a visionary of a director — at the School of the Arts. She would always say this and it stuck. This adage has carried me, what I do, and who I am since my second year. Anyone can make (or borrow) more money, more friends, buy more mimosas. But the one thing that is finite in this world is time. One thing that we are promised at birth, is death. And, as seen by 2020, anything can happen.
We can’t make time. And what you do with it is key. Being intentional and responsible with your time (like currency) is the skeleton key to creating your college experience and your life, to be perfectly honest. While what you do with your time reflects what you value, being mindful of who and what you give your time to is the key to being grounded in your truest fulfillment and living your best life.
Lesson 2: “If you don’t get out there to define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”
I had a post called “You only got that because you’re Asian” and tldr; I auditioned my first year at the School of the Arts and someone told me that I had only gotten seen because I was Asian. Yes, the tomfoolery! But come on — it’s Irvine. LOL.
To say the least, I was, in Michelle Obama’s words, “inaccurately defined” by an ignorant person. They’re all around us. They built Irvine. But this person just had the guts to say it to my face. Albeit, most trolls, haters, and ignorants won’t.
All that to say, while I didn’t audition or participate in many productions at the School of the Arts, like my other peers working on their craft did, I defined myself as:
- A community builder and mentor through SPOP, AMP, and Sierra.
- A Filipino actor, writer, and director for Kababayan’s PACN Skit (Yes, even though I wasn’t Skit’s coordinator until my last year, I still managed to manifest my predecessors’ visions).
- A well-rounded academic and stronger feminist in the School of Gender/Sexuality Studies.
I defined myself as someone who isn’t reduced to a singular identity, but rather, someone who elevates himself beyond what he is expected to do or be. My peers also defined me as Homecoming King, so that’s pretty nice, too. (Even though that title literally means nothing. LOL)
People already have stereotypes and assumptions about you. We grew up in a racist society and world, for God’s sake. The moment you believe those assumptions and reduce yourself to a stereotype is when you lose. Define yourself with your work and do what needs to be done (See 5).
Lesson 3: You party with just anybody, but you celebrate with friends.
In my 4 years at UC Irvine, I always struggled with feeling left out. No one really invited me to parties. Most of my closer friends weren’t the type to go clubbing (unless it was with a big org). In hindsight, I didn’t really go up to people and become friends with them. People really thought I was intimidating. It’s still nice to be recognized and seen though! Everyone wants that.
Nevertheless, all the nights I sat at home, sabotaging my own self worth by watching Snapchat and Instagram stories of people I barely knew, going out to Mansion, Fullerton, brunch, house parties — I would always ask,
“Do I suck that much? Am I that intimidating?”
LMAO. Whatever the reason was, I look back and remember that even though I didn’t go out to, say, house parties, where most people sat around mindlessly in a circle (either high or drunk) or playing Rage Cage while listening to the same Spotify Rap Caviar playlist everyone listens to…(Yes. Shade. But it isn’t shade if it’s the truth!)
…I went out with my closer friends. To places like Los Angeles, Disneyland, Target. If not them, I would set up dates to nurture relationships with people I knew I wanted in my life. (See 1)
After graduating, I found that the measure of a good, strong friendship after college is if you want them at your wedding, to witness your love with your partner. I can safely say that I have a good handful of those I want at that night under the moon. Yes, my wedding will feature a big ass moon and champagne everywhere.
Why? Because, truly, you can party with anybody. But you celebrate with your real friends. And because I want the fucking moon at my wedding.
Lesson 4: People are going to walk in and out of your life.
This is a practical note. As a person whose Sun is in Libra, Moon in Scorpio, and Aquarius Rising, and, in general, a person who prides himself in his emotions and getting easily attached, I would be remiss if I didn’t include this.
It’s a new quarter. You see that one classmate you had in that class last quarter, walking on Ring Road. Y’all know what I’m talking about: you two hung out so often to study at Starbucks, to do homework, to save each other seats in lecture. That class’s discussion felt bearable because you had someone to partner with when your TA made you unnecessarily find a partner to engage with. If you’re lucky, you repeat the same cycle this quarter because you had the same class registration date and signed up for the same exact schedule.
But like fuckbois and ex-boyfriends, they can be awkwardly waving, “Hi” to you in public one day, but act like they don’t know you the next quarter. And that’s okay. As long as you know your real friends, manage your expectations of people, and keep it pushing — don’t trip on those that you used to talk to. Like anyone you meet in life, you are bound to grow apart because there was one specific purpose they had in your life. Some may have a lasting purpose (See 3). Others just might be the cheat code to passing that class.
Lesson 5: Clout or Prestige?
Lastly, UC Irvine has a toxic culture that places a premium on how many things you do. Don’t fall into that trap. What’s for you will be for you. Do what makes you happy. Don’t just do it for the clout.
It is easy to look at the orgs people are a part of because, let’s be honest, some people value them more than others because it’s difficult to get in (@SPOP, AMP, Campus Representatives, ASUCI, Mesa Court, Middle Earth). Just a note to those folks: Y’all might say you’re “selective,” but there are A LOT of people who are more deserving than those you hired.
But honestly: it really is about who you know. While that might be cute, the number of expensive stoles you’ll wear at graduation doesn’t define you. I think it really comes down to the work and impact you have in those spaces. It comes down to this question: clout or prestige?
What do you want to be known for? By everyone in that org or for your work and the impact you made with that work. Clout is akin to fame. It’s being known. But for what? What do you want to be known for? That’s prestige. When your work and what you do, say, and are is revered. Clout rides acknowledgement. Prestige earns respect.
And not that it really matters: you only have 4 or 5 years at UC Irvine. Some are hustling to get their coin and don’t even care about stuff like this. But, for those seeking an org to feel seen, what do you really want? Clout may get you through those years. But prestige can bleed into the solid foundation for the work you will do after college and can last for a lifetime.