05 September 2006

A Return to Normalcy

As normal as it gets at BYU anyway. Whew, I forgot how nice it is to be in school. Besides New Year's Eve and the end of the school year, there's nothing I like better than the first week of school. Don't you just love Provo in the fall? Boquets of newly sharpened pencils . . . .

Movie quotes aside, there's nothing that invigorates me like collecting syllabi and making new productivity goals. And this year I've tried to be a little more realistic about what I can accomplish. One of the pieces of advice for oldest children I found in my recent birth order research was that oldest children need to relax their expectations for themselves a little, to be happy with what they do accomplish instead of depressed at where they fall short. As I've been applying this method, I've noticed an opposite change from what I expected: I've become more productive instead of less. I think that lowering my expectations for myself has also lowered the activation energy (sorry about the chem analogy) it takes for me to start doing something. Since I don't need to spend as much time recovering between activities and worrying about not getting everything done, I can actually exceed my expectations and have a wonderful time. Why didn't someone tell me about this paradox earlier?

Along with the new school year came New Student Orientation, which I volunteered at last weekend. I suppose it counts as a service activity, and a pretty impressive one, clocking in at about 36 hours of time during the last few days you have to make money for school. But really, I do it purely for selfish reasons. First, I like schedules and bureaucracy, so I fit in very well with the routine of NSO. Second, where else can you get an instant group of friends and a social schedule given to you on a platter? NSO is my way of forcing me to have a social life. :D However, the most important reason is really that NSO gets me pumped up to go to BYU again. I've been listening to the NSO CD that I made, which includes a mix I made of Switchfoot's "Dare You to Move" and a bunch of quotes about BYU by President Hinckley, President Samuelson, and BYU radio. It's pretty much an amazing piece, for someone with no experience or musical ear.

That CD also has a really great talk by President Hinckley, "The BYU Experience," which I think every BYU student should listen to regularly, along with "Out of Your Experience Here." These two talks have shaped my philosophy of BYU which goes something like this:

  1. Your first priority at BYU ought to be to be grateful, both for the tithing that is spent to subsidize your education (up to 70% of costs, according to my sources) and for the opportunity to study in a place that invites the Spirit.
  2. In keeping with this gratitude, you should work hard in your classes, striving to really learn something rather than just to pass. Additionally, we should not learn anything without the Spirit with us.
  3. Unlike most other universities, the mission of BYU goes beyond the "can-opener" approach; rather than just providing a gateway to a better job, BYU seeks to help us grow as individuals both spiritually and socially. As a result, our spiritual devotions and our social experiences should be equally important with our academic studies.
Alright, soapbox over. But you should really read those talks. Good good stuff. Oh, and did I mention that the calculus is coming back to me much faster than I thought? I went to my first review session for the pre-test for Math 302 today, and I just kept remembering everything that they talked about! Hurrah! That relieves a lot of anxiety about that class.

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