Sam Terrill ’16 is a sophomore biochemistry and genetics major and the newly-elected president of TAMU Honors Student Council for 2014-15. Sam provides Texas A&M University Honors Program’s third contribution to the second-annual National Honors Blog Week. The theme for this synchroblog is “Things You Can’t Learn in a Classroom.” To read other contributions to this effort, visit the hub hosted at http://www.honorslounge.com/taxonomy/term/3287.
– by Sam Terrill
Starting back in high school, I’ve put a lot a lot of effort into trying to do everything. From joining lots of clubs, maintaining good grades, volunteering in the community, and hanging out with friends, I’ve done everything I’ve had the time to do. When somebody asked if I wanted to hang out, I’d say yes; if an officer position was open in an organization, I’d run; if a group project needed a leader, I’d always step up; and if a group in the community needed volunteers, I’d be there. In high school, where things were far easier, this was fine–I could do everything and still be passionate about everything. This is not the case in college.
I started my undergraduate education with high expectations from my parents, and even higher expectations from myself—planning to do everything I could do to make myself the best possible applicant for medical school. I quickly joined several clubs, got involved in an undergraduate lab, joined intramural teams, volunteered around the community, and put great time and effort into my studies. Much to my dismay, I soon was sucked into the vicious cycle of the all-nighter. With not enough time to get everything done in the day, I would work late into the night and see the sun rise. Sleep deprived, I would see a fall in productivity, and then have the need to pull another all-nighter a few days later. It took quite a while (2 ish semesters), but I finally realized that this cycle of wake up, do everything, don’t sleep, do everything, sleep some, repeat, was not what college was about. There are far more important things in like than being the perfect, well-rounded, student. Mainly, I learned two important lessons: not to be afraid to say no, and that trying to do everything isn’t enough—doing what you are capable of is.
After challenging freshman year outside of the classroom, I saw a need to prioritize what mattered most to me. I knew that grades would be something that would take care of themselves with appropriate time commitment, but I had not much of an idea as to what I wanted to do outside of the classroom, because whatever I had done freshman year simply wasn’t good enough. I was tired of getting stretched too far over many things. So, when my sophomore year rolled around, I knew that some things would need to change. I watched a star wars marathon this past summer and some of Yoda’s words struck me as profound: “Do, or do not, there is no try.” I reflected about this and knew that I would need to prioritize what I was most important to me and say no to the rest. I quit one of the clubs that I liked, because even though I enjoyed it, it was a time sink and there were more fulfilling ways to spend my time. I put more focus into spending time with my friends, because when I look back at my life years from now, the I won’t remember what clubs I joined or what molecules react—I will remember my friend though. Was this increased focus on friendships at the expense of more resume building and some time spent studying? Yes it was, but it was absolutely worth it. Instead of trying to do everything at once, I was actively doing the things that were more important to me. And, it’s not like I completely abandoned the classroom or my extracurricular involvements, I simply found that try less allowed me to truly do far more.
Do, or do not, there is no try. These wise words from Yoda may seem harsh (they definitely did for Luke), yet they are important to understand, and were important for me. In the classroom, we are conditioned to always do: do this assignment, take this test, show up to class—there is no saying no (at least if you want to get a quality education, their isn’t). From early childhood, we are taught to try our best, and we get a gold star for trying, or some other award. Sadly, life doesn’t quite work that way—even when we try our hardest, it can knock us down. We either achieve our goals, or we don’t; we either do a . There is nothing wrong with simply “doing not” in some aspects of life, as long as we still are able to do the things we strive for. We aren’t Superman, so we shouldn’t try be him.
Sam is a sophomore biochemistry and genetics major seeking to become a physician. He is active in the TAMU Honors student council (rising president) and premedical society. He enjoys sports of all kinds, backpacking, and reading a books of the fantasy genre.