The university experience seems to go by fast. We’re moving into residence, going to our first lecture, making our first new friend, then before we know it, we’re walking across that stage. My years as an undergraduate student were great, but they seemed to happen unexpectedly quick. Looking back now, something I would have done more before and throughout university is take more quality time to reflect; on myself, my experiences, and my work. To be brutally honest with myself and see where my biggest successes and challenges were. As students we are constantly told about how vital it is to be ahead of the game at all times. To always be as prepared as possible to not fall behind. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up worrying about taking the next step without taking any time to step back or have a moment to stand still with our experiences. Part of preparing for a new chapter is to reflect.
Now that I am graduated I find myself doing a lot of reflection in order to make the decisions that are best for me, learn from my mistakes, and try new things. I do my best reflection while walking, as well as through journaling. These are some ways that I’ve used reflection before, during, and after my time as a Badger, because trust me, it is necessary.
Now, this might seem strange considering we tend to reflect after something happens. However, it is extremely useful to do this before entering something new. For me, I tend to think of everything that could go wrong before I even begin, and I create barriers in my mind to talk myself out of doing it. Starting university was one of those situations for me. I had to take the time to think about my previous experiences in school from high school and think about what worked well and what didn’t. I had to allow myself to honestly think about where I excelled but also where I fell short. I needed to take accountability for the areas in which I underachieved and used that as motivation to improve on those weaknesses in university. Taking the time to do this made it a little easier to find the confidence to open those Tower doors over four years ago.
Being in school is a hectic time filled with hard work and often a lack of sleep. It isn’t easy to think deeply about our experiences while in such a high stress, busy place. Throughout university I took summer as my time to reflect. I thought about how the year went in comparison to the previous one, what I needed the previous year that I was missing, and how I was going to fill that gap for the upcoming year. Finding time to reflect during semesters was also useful, because I could think of ways to be better prepared and organize my time better, based on what was not well organized during the first semester.
And here I am now, recently graduated and in my deepest state of reflection. I find myself often wondering what my next steps are, but first make sure I am looking back at what I have accomplished and letting that be my push for making decisions on what to do next. It is useful and rewarding to reflect on accomplishments, because it makes me think about how I thought before starting my journey in university, and how much I told myself I couldn’t do it. Now, years later, I am able to look back on what I have achieved and not only be extremely proud, but also know that I can eliminate other fears and barriers for future endeavors.
So slow done once in a while in your busy life and take time to reflect. Think about your last experience before diving into your next one and get the most out of your university experience.