Welcome to Stanford: A note from The Grind

Sept. 18, 2019, 6:37 a.m.

To all the freshmen who aren’t sure whether to wear that bright red lanyard with pride or embarrassment; who might be sleep-deprived from early morning travels or late night nerves or both; who are already getting a taste of have-I-met-this-person panic and never-genuinely-listen-to-anyone’s-name guilt; who almost (but not totally) believe the 30th upperclassmen advising them to please, for the love of all that is holy, toss that four-year plan immediately:

You probably have questions. You’re probably wondering when and where you’re going to find your place here, how you’re going to make this imposing institution the tiniest bit yours, what on Earth you’re going to do now that your parents and the rental car have exited the bubble and you are, for maybe the first time — and despite the sung or chanted assurances of your RAs or volunteer move-in day greeters that have bombarded you since 7 a.m. — completely on your own.

I don’t have all the answers. But I’d like to make a suggestion.

I joined the Daily’s lifestyle section — wittily and appropriately named The Grind — because I had exactly one idea for an article, and I stayed because asking myself what thoughts or experiences I had to write about every subsequent week gave me a much-needed mechanism for reflection in the most formative, messy and remarkable year of my life. I wrote about love, balance and stress. I chronicled my weirdest experiences and the most challenging ones. I considered what Stanford has taught me, from 3,000 miles away, about my home.

It may be hard to believe now, but just two years down the line, your first year at Stanford may play in your head like a blur of undifferentiated chaos. When you graduate, or when you start your first real job, or when you send a kid of your own off to college, you’ll be glad to have a time capsule of your development and growth immortalized in the Daily’s print and online archives.

The best part? Our writers write about what they want, when they want, how they want — for the most part.

If you’re anything like me, you will finish your first year at Stanford with more questions — about your future, about your place, about the meaning of community and about yourself — than you have today. But putting your thoughts to paper and sharing them with this huge, intimidating, inspiring community, however terrifying that process may be, will help you develop a sense of what questions matter to you and how your Stanford experience can help you explore them.

So if you have something to share or wish you had something to share; if you’ve ever written a journal or a blog or tried to; if you want to write about something, anything, or if you don’t yet know what you’d like to write about at all; if you’re not sure where you’ll fit in at The Daily or where you’ll fit in at this university, I urge you to join us at The Grind. We would be thrilled to have you.

In case you haven’t heard it enough already, I’ll leave you with one last piece of advice: seriously, click and drag your meticulous four-year, double-major, triple-minor, honors-PLUS-coterm master plan straight to the trash without giving it another glance. Oh, and the lanyard is embarrassing — but you deserve to wear it with pride. This is your university now, after all. Welcome!

Contact Jackie O’Neil at jroneil ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Jackie O'Neil '21 is The Daily's Vol. 259 staff development director and the former executive editor for Vol. 258 and managing editor of The Grind for Vols. 255 and 256. She's a Richmond, Virginia native studying political science, psychology and ethics. Contact her at joneil 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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