I’m excited to unveil my new blog! You can find it at calebstevens.com
All the content from this blog is over there plus a lot more!
When I first got to college, I noticed something interesting and slightly scary. I started to forget things. All. The. Time. It was pretty bad. I remember I showed up to class one day, not remembering that we had an outline for a paper due.
Oh. Oh yeah.
Fortunately, the teacher gave me some grace and I had a few extra hours to pull it together.
After that day, I started to realize that I outta should maybe probably write things down more often- so you know, I’ll remember to write my papers and stuff.
But there’s more to it.
Not only does it help remind us of the critical things we have to do, it also helps us capture the moment. Starting my freshman year at UGA (and still going to this day), I began writing down everything I did that I thought was worth remembering. It might be an event I went to, or something I did with friends, or even our hilarious and ridiculous inside jokes. I knew if I didn’t, I’d probably forget it all in a short time. I starting making a word doc for each school year and summer. Sure, we have photos and facebook and twitter and instagram and all that to capture stories and memories, but there are some things that we simply need to write down in order to remember. Like they say, it’s the little things.
Now, I love being able to look back at the list of things I’ve experienced and places I’ve gone and have it all captured. Looking back on college now that I’m three years in, it blows my mind at how many things I’ve gotten to see and do. It makes me thankful and reminds me of everything I’ve been blessed to be a part of and the small part that I play in a larger story.
Try it! Start writing down the moments worth remembering. Capture the emotion and the experience while it’s fresh.
“It’s a beautiful day! Don’t let it get away!” – U2
FREE AT LAST!!!
Those were the words I internally exclaimed as I learned that the Terry College of Business had dropped the Calculus requirement for admission. I had just finished a rough semester of PreCalculus and thought I was done with math forever. I was so excited that I posted on Facebook and Twitter about it.
Boy was I wrong.
The next year, I had to take “Business Statistics” (it was more like “just Statistics”).
I survived it. And once again, I yelled, “Free at last!!!”
Then I learned that the business school had not actually dropped the Calc requirement. They had simply made their own course called “Business Analytics” (aka Calculus).
So now I’m in the class. I can’t say it’s been the highlight of my semester.
Growing up in school, there was always that one class I absolutely dreaded going to each day. My sophomore year of high school, that class was Honors Chemistry. I hated it. I don’t know why I thought taking the honors section was a good idea. I didn’t care how many moles could be converted to grams and I despised Avagadro’s number. I felt like I was drowning in a bottomless pit of molecular oblivion.
I would often go home and whine to my parents about how hard the class was and how useless it felt to my life. I just wanted it to be over. One night, as I was stressing over memorizing the formulas for compounds like Acetate and Sulfuric Acid, my dad said something exceptionally insightful, “In life, there will always be a ‘Chemistry’- something you dislike and don’t want to do”.
My junior year of high school, it was Physics. My senior year, it was PreCalculus. My freshman year of college, it was PreCal again (except 3x as hard). My sophomore year, it was Business Statistics. This year, it’s Business Calculus. (Can you tell I don’t like math?)
Every time I thought I was finished with math or science, another “Chemistry” type of class unexpectedly popped up out of nowhere. Like my dad said, it will probably never stop.
When we are working full time, there will be assignments and tasks that we don’t want to do. Tasks that we don’t feel add value to our lives, yet we have to do them anyways.
So what do we do with the “Chemistry’s” of life? How do we take something that seems useless and futile and turn it into something productive and meaningful?
I’m no expert by any means, but I’ve come up with a few ideas that might help.
1) Instead of complaining, ask, “What does this make possible?”
While suffering through Physics my junior year of high school, I came across a tutor named Tom. He was a super smart dude. He was like a Jedi teaching me the ways of the Mass X Acceleration. But there was more to it than that. Tom also tutored people in their SAT prep. With his help, my score increased a couple hundred points, and I’m convinced that he played an instrumental role in my acceptance into UGA. Without the misery of that Physics course, it might have never happened. Could there be a bigger reason or doors that are opened by what seem to be meaningless challenges?
2) Develop an attitude of gratefulness.
Man, this is a hard one isn’t it? It really takes some perspective. Here’s a stat for you: If the world were made up of 100 people, only 7 would have a college degree. As college students, that puts us in an extremely small 7% of the entire world. Makes it look a lot less like “I have to do Calculus today” and more like “I get to do Calculus today”.
3) Stop complaining and do it.
Sometimes, you just gotta suck it up and do it. One day during high school football practice, I heard our defensive coordinator say this to the defense:
“Gentlemen, there’s gonna be times during a game when something unexpected and disappointing happens. The offensive will fumble or throw an interception and you’ll have to come right back out here on the field. It’s in those moments where there’s no time for complaining. It’s time to buckle down and play football. You’ve gotta see it as your challenge.”
I didn’t even play defense. I was the lowly punter. But hearing that has stuck with me ever since high school. Whenever I feel like my back is against the wall or I start to feel sorry for myself, those words always seem pop into my head. “It’s time to buckle down and play football”. Forget the disappointment. There’s nothing you can do about it. It’s time to see this as a challenge to meet head on.
Are you in one of those frustrating classes right now?
What does it make possible? Are you sitting next to someone who could use some encouragement? What are you learning about yourself through the class? Can you develop a more grateful and thankful attitude towards it?
From there, just buckle down and gitterdone!
When it comes to giving hugs, I’m *white girl voice* just the worst.
I’m actually terrible at judging when to hug people and when to just not. Most of the time, it ends up in the classic awkward side hug thing.
You know what I’m talking about. The “I think I’m pretty sure that I might should maybe give you a hug but I’m really not 100% certain” side hug.
Then there’s the even more difficult choice, the decision of whether to hug somebody or just stick with the safe “high five”. I know, tough decisions.
We Don’t Like Awkward Situations
I’ll be the first to admit that I dislike awkwardness. It makes me wanna run the other way faster than Usian Bolt.
The other day, I was standing in line to go into Bolton (one of the dinning halls, for you non-UGA people). It was raining outside and the stairs I was standing on inside were wet.
Yep. You already know where this is going.
I go to take the last step and…….
I’m free falling.
With both my feet out from under me, I crash down on the stairs I’m standing on.
But even more than ouch was awkward. Completely losing your feet in front of everyone in line. What a sight. It would have made you laugh. You’re probably laughing right now as you imagine it.
If We Avoid Everything Awkward, We Avoid Lots of Great Opportunities
Side hugs aside (pun intended), how do we seriously deal with things we think are awkward?
You know, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I think it’s only awkward if we think it’s awkward. Most of the time, it is self-imagined and self-inflicted. And (sadly) people are often too concerned about themselves to really even pay attention.
At the start of my freshman year here at UGA, the RA on my floor gathered all the residents together on the hall for an introductory meeting. As a bunch of young and timid freshmen, the goal of the meeting was to get everyone talking and meeting each other. We began by going around the room with each person giving their name, hometown, intended major, and a fun fact about themselves (not very original, I know). Most of the responses were typical, bland, and boring, to be honest.
Except for this one guy.
His fun fact was, “I thrive in awkward situations”.
I wish we all could be more like this guy. I wonder how many new things we would be able to accomplish. The funny thing is, I have a hunch that most people wouldn’t find those things awkward at all. Just us.
So get out there! Give someone a side hug today. Be awkward!
Man, I love college.
Why? That might actually take forever to fully explain. There’s so many reasons why my time here at UGA has been remarkable. Solid friends, crazy fun social events, endless opportunities to use my gifts, rigorous classes, Saturdays between the Hedges, to name just a few.
I think I can best sum it up like this: I’ve never had so much fun in my entire life, yet been more challenged in my entire life.
It might sound strange, but I think fun and challenging really go hand in hand. Without fun, it’s hard to enjoy. Without challenging, it’s hard to grow.
So with that in mind, here are the 4 key ways in which I think college challenges us. Obviously, there’s way more to it than this, but I think these are some of the main and most important.
1) College challenges our beliefs. I’m not talking about the stereotypical professor who tells the entire class that their entire worldview is outdated and wrong (though that certainty can happen), I’m talking about the challenge that comes with stepping outside of the environment we grew up in. That’s often when we are truly forced to discern what we value and belief in. My freshman year, I was faced with questions like: Are my beliefs just a product of my upbringing? Is my faith just a façade? Or is it truly rooted in the core of my identity? These questions are key, because they define everything else in our life- our source of joy, what we strive for, whom we surround ourselves with, etc.
2) College challenges our intentionality. Unless you’re as lucky as these jokers, things don’t magically happen. It’s hard to make friends or accomplish anything by simply showing up. A solid inner circle of friends won’t appear on it’s own, it has to be built. Build a strong, mature, and like-minded friend base, and it’s a blast. The same goes for anything. Without getting crystal clear about our intentions and doing things on purpose, it probably won’t happen.
3) College challenges our grit. Yes. Yes it does. Just ask me about the accounting tests I’ve taken. Or my intro to finance class. Or ask premed people about OChem. College throws some tough classes at us. We have those nights where we wonder how we’re gonna get it all done. When our energy is zapped and our brain is tired and we’ve been taking a test for almost 3 hours and we’ve got just 2 more questions to go, grit keeps us going.
4) College challenges our courage. Courage is what propels us outside of our comfort zone. There’s so many things that college throws at us that requires courage. It’s all over the spectrum. Job interviews, speaking in public, taking a stand for something, going hard on the dance floor, riding roller coasters, starting a podcast show. You get the picture. We don’t have to look very hard to find opportunities to be courageous.
What are the ways college has challenged you?
I like setting goals. It’s exciting to write down what I want to do and where I want to be in the future.
I always get super turnt up about it and feel this rush of energy when I write them down. Unfortunately, that’s usually where it stops. Just some words on a page. Basically a fancy way of procrastinating because it makes me feel like I’m doing something cool and productive when I’m actually not.
So I decided to do something weird this semester. I intentionally didn’t set any goals. It’s not because I think goals are useless, but because I need to focus on something more important: Action. I think our actions speak louder than our goals.
Instead of writing down stuff like “make all A’s” or “read more books” or “start this idea”, I wrote down a bunch of simple things I think are worth doing each week.
Funny thing is, some of them really don’t have anything to do with my typical goals. However, I know that if I do them, I’ll be more focused, energized, and productive than I ever would by simply writing down some goals that I think are cool.
So here they are. I somehow decided on 7. I promise it had nothing to do with Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits book. Maybe you’ll benefit from trying them out!
1) Read the Bible every morning.
For me, this is the habit of habits. My relationship with Jesus rises above everything else, and defines how I view the world, others, and myself. Spending time in the scriptures each morning is critical to setting the tone for the day and recognizing what a gift it is.
2) Lights out by 10:15pm each night.
I know I know I know. Crazy isn’t it? Five 8am classes will do it to ya though. I normally have a couple “cheat” nights where I’ll stay up till 11 or so if I have something going on, but most of the time I try to stick to it. It’s amazing how much you get done in the morning when you wake up fully rested.
3) Weekly accountability.
If people don’t hold us accountable to our actions, it becomes much more difficult to form good habits and break old ones. I think it’s important to surround ourselves with people with whom we can be vulnerable and honest around, and to meet with them on a weekly basis.
4) Keep my room clean.
When my room is clean, I can “breathe” better if that makes any sense. My mind is more focused and I’m more productive.
5) Workout 4 times per week.
For most of us, if we don’t make time to do something active, it ends up hurting other areas of our life. I know personally that if I don’t run around or lift something heavy or do something that makes me sweat, I get to feeling a little down and super tired. Having a workout partner is a great way to apply accountability as well.
6) Layout my clothes each night before a school day.
Just one less decision I have to make when I’m up early and I’m still sleepy. It makes my morning routine much smoother.
7) Pack a snack each night before a school day.
I’m always hungry. Like actually always. And if I don’t pack it the night before, I’ll forget in the morning. Having a snack in my backpack during the day keeps my energy level a little more constant. Without it, that 3pm feeling makes me wanna lie down in the middle of the SLC and go to sleep.
What are your essential habits?
(I recently read a book called “Poke the Box” by Seth Godin. This post is a synopsis of my key takeaways.)
Those 4 words are essential. As long as there’s something meaningful to start, accomplish, fulfill, etc, there’s always a chance it might not work. If there’s not, it’s probably not very significant.
This idea might flop.
This business venture might fail.
If I speak up, people might disagree.
I might go the wrong direction.
They might not like my speech.
The professor might not like our project.
I might drop the pass.
They might not follow me.
This blog post might be lame.
This might not work.
The possibility of failure is a prerequisite for doing meaningful work that challenges the status quo. If we never try new things, we never learn what works and what doesn’t work. If we never learn what works, we never succeed.
Seth points out that, in today’s economy, the cost of not trying vastly outweighs the cost of failure. There is so much innovation, new ideas, and creative projects that never see the light of day, because we never bother to start.
“Poke the Box” is a manifesto to starting.
Check out “Poke the Box” by Seth Godin