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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: Making the most of your time at UNC

Gwen Smith

The beginning of this year was different than the past two.

There was less uncertainty and anxiety, and considerably more confidence — but the difference was bigger than that.

Solidifying my major was a great feeling, but the realization that last week was my second-to-last FDOC hit me like a ton of bricks.

During my junior year of high school, I knew exactly what I needed to do to be admitted to UNC.

Well, I knew as much as I could. What scores I needed, what skills I needed to groom, the people who were going to help me apply the following year — I had all of it down to a tee.

Entering my junior year of college, I feel like I know nothing except my name, class schedule and the operating hours of Starbucks. I mean, I know that I know a little more now, but I’ve never been so unsure before.

UNC was my “sure thing,” the dream I always had and the accomplishment I couldn’t wait to achieve.

For the first time in my life, I don’t have a clear-cut vision of where I’ll be in two years, and I only have a vague idea of where I want to be.

It’s crunch time.

The guessing game of adding majors and minors has disappeared and now we are, quite literally, preparing for our careers. It’s great, but it’s terrifying.

Instead of giving into that terror and curling up into a ball, I’m seriously evaluating how I spend my time and why I do what I do.

I’ve tried to identify who and what I value, what I stand for and what type of person I strive to be.

In the slew of meetings I’ve had thus far, I’ve asked myself why I was there.

“Do I really want to be here?”

“What am I excited about this year?”

“Is it worth going to this meeting that could have been an email for the additional line on my resume?”

I think it’s become commonplace to remain in an organization as long as possible because it “looks better” or “shows dedication” to employers.

But, if you were miserable three of the four years you were involved, was it really worth it?

We must determine what activities deserve our energy and time.

I’ve found we get stuck in situations we want nothing to do with because it’s comfortable for us.

Or we remain in an organization because we’ve “been in it since freshman year.”

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That can’t be the only reason anymore.

If being involved in a particular club stresses you out, gives you anxiety or frustrates you, it’s time to decide whether or not exerting the energy is worth it.

Both time and life are limited, which means they are precious.

This year, I am determined to care for my time, protect my energy and guard my peace — I hope you all do the same.