Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
October 27, 2021
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COURTESY OF SANIYA RAMCHANDANI

Ramchandani shares lessons from her time at Hopkins with her freshman self.

If you blink, you’ll miss it. Just like that, four years are coming to a close. Four magical, frustrating, incomparable years full of love, learning and growth. There are so many things I want to say and so many people I want to thank — I could fill volumes with words, but for now, during my last week, I’ll keep it concise and reflect on some things I wish I had known during my first. So, to freshman year San, this is for you:

#1: Don’t wait for the perfect moment — to ask a question, take a picture or go try that new coffee place. I know you think a better time will come to take that weekend trip to New York or explore the city on the JHMI but it won’t. Have no regrets. Take too many pictures, ask too many questions and make every memory. 

I promise that you won’t remember the stressful nights before midterms or that awkward question you asked in class, but you’ll thank yourself for every moment of joy you created. 

#2: Have the courage of your convictions. I know it’s scary to be vulnerable, but authenticity at its most extreme is the only option here. It’s the only way you’ll learn about what you value and who you’re going to be. 

The scariest thing in the world is putting yourself out there, walls down with no shield, but the feelings of comfort and safety that come with being accepted through even your worst moments are unparalleled. I promise you, the scaries go away and, at the end of your journey, you’re going to love the people you have surrounded yourself with. 

#3: Do your damn work. Your high school study style (procrastinate until the last minute and somehow still manage good grades) is not going to cut it here. Putting work off until the very minute before it’s due is only going to stress you out, and you won’t enjoy the fun things you’re doing in the meantime as much as you could. 

#4: Don’t put up with anyone because it’s “easier.” If someone is making you uncomfortable or does things you disagree with, you have no obligation to keep them in your life. It’s okay to be deliberate instead of passive when choosing who to make effort with and who you are okay not knowing. Not everyone shares the same values that you do, and keeping people who hurt you are out of your life is your prerogative; stand up for yourself.

#5: Every mistake is going to strengthen the foundation of who you are. There will be many, many mistakes that will sometimes make you feel like you have failed. In those moments, I encourage you to think about how proud your childhood self would be of you right now. Think about what you can do to honor the pedestal she put you on, and try and handle every situation with grace. Remember, there were times when you thought just getting here was impossible.

#6: Expectation is the thief of joy. While I highly recommend looking at life through rose-tinted glasses, make sure they aren’t opaque pink. Romanticizing each moment is extremely different from thinking each day is going to feel like the montage from Pretty Woman. Learn to find the beauty in everyday moments like the first day the tulips in Sherwood Gardens bloom or when Starbucks starts stocking the Chestnut Praline Latte again in the fall. 

#7: Step outside your comfort zone every opportunity you get. Coming to you from the future, I can decisively say that all the best things that have happened to you occurred because you pushed yourself through things that seemed a little too tough. Create that print magazine, get your roommate that dog and take that graduate-level class. No part of you will regret those decisions; in fact, they are the reason that at the end of your journey, you’re going to love the woman you become. 

Before I leave you, I want to say that I’m so glad you didn’t blink. You kept your eyes wide open and I am so grateful for every romanticized moment — from first dates in the freezing cold on the Beach to gnawing on the world’s driest chicken from the Fresh Food Cafe with friends. We made magazines, visited every city in the area, hiked the toughest trails and ate all of the food. 

Of all the things I’ve accomplished over these years, these adventures are the most sacred. Hopkins: You made me who I am, and for that, I can’t thank you enough.

Saniya Ramchandani is a senior from Singapore studying Physics. Her column is a reflective narrative that chronicles her experiences navigating various aspects of college life.

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