It’s the last column of the year. Bittersweet, I must admit. There are many things I would like to say in this column, the first of which is thank you. To those of you who read consistently, thank you for your time and attention. To those of you who left nasty comments, thank you for keeping me from getting overconfident. To the asshole who slammed a door in my face fall quarter, thank you for giving me some great content to write about. To everyone whose overheard words inspired me, thank you for doing just that: inspiring me and often making me smile.
It’s all the same story if you look through my columns. I won’t pretend otherwise. It goes something like this:
Be curious. When you start to feel judgmental, check yourself, and see if you can’t replace that judgment with curiosity. Get curious about the people around you, about the subjects you study, and especially about your own growth.
Be kinder to yourself. This place can chew you up and spit you out, if you let it. Let go of the perfectionist impulse. Resist the disease to please. When you get stuck in an endless self-improvement spiral, let up on the self-criticism. When you wind yourself up into an “I’m not good enough” frenzy, cut yourself some slack.
Go out of your way. Make time for the people you love – make them your priority. Make somebody else the center of your universe, even just for thirty minutes. It’s a nice break from your own anxiety.
Appreciate each other. Lately, this one has been nagging at me especially. My burnout has almost reached critical mass and most days it seems like the quarter can’t end soon enough. But there’s another force tugging me in a different direction, where I don’t want the quarter to end because I’m not ready for everyone to scatter in a million different directions in an instant. Every quarter, every year, the rhythm of Stanford changes drastically. I try to hang onto all of the people in my life and keep them in whatever current niche they fill. Instead, people come and people go, occupying first one niche and then another, and sometimes disappearing altogether.
I still haven’t come to terms with this fluidity. I’m too attached to people, I guess. If I can’t change the way everyone scatters to the winds, I can at least make a more concerted effort to appreciate them while we’re all in one place. Don’t let the stress of whatever you have to get done for finals occlude how precious your relationships are. Sappy, I know, but I think it’s an important reminder.
That’s about it. I wish I had a more profound realization at the end here, but I don’t. So, good luck with finals. Make noise, have fun – thank you for reading.
This is Renee’s last column – but it doesn’t have to be the last time you email her! She’d love to hear feedback from her readers at firstname.lastname@example.org.