The week before my freshman year I was in the Happiest Place on Earth reading an Odyssey Online article about the most Magical Place on Earth. Yes I was sitting in the Animal Kingdom Lodge looking at giraffes and reading an article about Springfield College that went viral, even among students who hadn’t had orientation yet. I still remember reading that article and being so excited, fast forward four years and I can confirm it is the other most Magical Place on Earth.
But I’m not here to tell you about why you should choose Springfield College. If you wanted that speech you should have come on one of my tours! Instead this is going to be what Springfield College taught me.
Spirit, Mind, and Body: Keep it balanced people
At Springfield College we are always throwing around upside down equilateral triangles. Why? Because all of those traits are equally important and if one outweighs the other, the triangle is just going to fall over.
But even at a school where everyone agrees finding balance is important, it doesn’t always happen. Some Sundays I felt like I had no time to go to church. We had one mass every Sunday at 4pm and some times I just felt like if I did go I would sit there for an hour and make mental checklists of everything I had done and everything I still needed to do. So instead I listened to my “If Not Me” playlist or I found some podcasts like Catholic Stuff you Should Know and The Christian Feminist Podcast.
That being said some semesters I was so on top on my faith. I even became a Eucharistic minister during my time at school. The priest at my school has been so supportive of us. He takes the time after mass to get to know us and he came to a number of my dance shows. He even showed up to baccalaureate with presents for the seniors!
As for the mind aspect, if any category got priority it would be mind. I mean it was college. Keep in mind that while you are in school, your grades are not the most important thing! Focus on learning what you need to but do not get caught up on being the best. Much easier said than done but two years from now, when I’m treating a patient they really aren’t going to ask me what grade I got on the third kinesiology exam.
And body, this one can get swept under the rug too. Between teaching yoga and dancing I am pretty active but I definitely did not hit the gym as much as I have when I wasn’t taking grad classes. But I have a few easy fixes for you.
First, read your notes on the bike. I’m not really into spin but sometimes reading on the bike was really nice. This also works for the elliptical but my eyes cannot focus on a piece of paper when on the elliptical. Another solution: record yourself reading the notes and then listening to them. One of my friends did this and shared her recordings with me and now I could study on the elliptical! Then I started making my own!
DISCLAIMER: In the spirit of keeping your triangle balanced, do not study at the gym unless it’s midterms/finals week! You deserve an hour to yourself!
Your People Will Find You
One of the scariest things about starting at a new school is making new friends. I was in the unofficial Facebook group (that’s where Allison and I kinda met, kinda not, but that’s a story for another time) and Quad (an app for students to meet each other) and I was so worried about finding my people.
Lucky enough for me my best friends were all on my freshman year floor. The girls I lived with for the next three years mainly came from the third floor of Reed Hall. While we met a few more people throughout the year, our friendship started in the common room when we watched Disney movies every Friday or Saturday night.
When I gave tours at school one of the my most frequently asked questions was “What’s been my favorite memory so far?” This was definitely a tough one but I always had to explain that there’s not one thing, but it’s all the little things. One story I shared with people happened my junior year when I was with three of my roommates in our suite. One of our roommates had said, “Maya aren’t you making popcorn?” a little too late and as soon as Maya opened the microwave smoke came out. So the three of them were on top of our counters, opening windows, and fanning the smoke away from the detector because no one wants to be those people. You may be asking what was I doing? I was sitting on the couch, laughing, and filming the whole thing. It’s such a silly thing but in my opinion, those moments mean the most.
You are Your Own Biggest Advocate
No one is going to look out for you like you can. And no one knows exactly what you need like you do. I’ve learned how to advocate for myself in a number of ways over my time in college.
The night before we graduated a few of us were sitting on the green. And someone was asking the greatest thing you did in the past four years. We went around the circle and when it was my turn I said my greatest accomplishment was taking my mental health seriously. To be completely honest, I’m not sure where that came from because I never really talk about the fact that I go to the counseling center unless someone else brings up that they go or it seems like someone should go and I tell them as a “hey there’s nothing wrong with going”. I’ve never had a problem with asking for help when it comes to getting a tutor so I don’t know why I had viewed counseling as any different. It all goes back to the previous lesson, keep your triangle balanced! If you need to talk to someone there’s no shame in that.
I’ve also learned how to advocate for myself with professors. It may seem scary because they are in a position of power, but no one is going to double check the grading rubric to make sure everything was scored right. If it is that important to you, you need to address it because no one else is going to lose sleep over it. Even if nothing ends up changing, you can go to sleep knowing you did all that you could.
Now I’m not saying your teachers don’t care about you. I’ve been fortunate to have amazing teachers my whole life and teachers really do put their heart and soul into your education. What I am saying is that everyone makes mistakes and if you have questions ask them! There’s no such thing as a stupid question, remember?
Here’s one last story about staying true to yourself. Our dance club has feedback sessions for all of the pieces in the spring show. Hear me out, getting feedback is not bad, it can be a helpful process but in my experiences it can also change the piece in a way that wasn’t the original intention. This is because feedback comes in two forms subjective and objective.
Subjective feedback is personal. It’s the “I appreciated…”, “I wonder what would happen if…”, or “I thought…”. While objective feedback is “You guys weren’t together”, “Your toes weren’t pointed”, “Your legs weren’t straight”.
I personally hate subjective feedback. While I can appreciate hearing about the moments that stuck out to people or the moments that didn’t feel quite right, that doesn’t mean I should change what I have created because someone didn’t get it. The application of feedback is tricky because each person views dance through a different lens, so how can you ever appeal to everyone in the audience? You. Can’t.
At this point you may be asking yourself, “Okay what’s the point?” The point is do not let anyone’s opinion change you if it is not a positive change. If their opinion does not help you grow, let it go. You cannot appeal to everyone, and the only person you need approval from is yourself.
And that’s it! Not all of the lessons I learned at Springfield, I didn’t think you wanted to hear about the convex-concave rules for joint mobilizations, but these are some of the most important lessons. Springfield College has shaped me into the person I am today, and while I will have student loans for years to come, the lessons were priceless.