There’s an old saying that we use to describe the feeling that you get at the end of a session at summer camp that goes “battery empty, bucket full.” Although there is no literal battery and no literal bucket, this adage refers to the feeling of exhausted fulfillment that one gains after a crazy summer of campfires, color wars and getting muddy with friends. Your battery is empty because you’re entirely depleted of energy, and your bucket is full because you’ve made enough jokes, memories and experiences to last you until your battery recharges. After seven semesters of Brandeis University, I can say without hesitation that my battery is very empty and my bucket is very full. My journey has been rocky and weird, but here I sit, my last assignment officially submitted, and I am still in one piece. I think it’s annoying when people offer unsolicited advice, but if you thought that you would stop reading this, for the sake of those of you who are craving advice that I’m not particularly qualified to be giving, here it goes. I present to you:
The Official Carly Chernomorets Guide To Having an Empty Battery And A Full Bucket
1) Try everything. When I was a little baby first-year, I broke my foot on the first day of college and I hobbled around the activities fair, dazed and confused. Because I was so slow with my injury, I couldn’t run away from people fast enough to avoid being put on their listservs, so I accidently joined everything from the Brandeis Orthodox Organization to Rugby (honestly I signed up for rugby because I thought it was ironic that I was signing up for a sport with a massive cast on my foot). It’s okay to have a full schedule and to run from one activity to another. The same goes for classes. One time I stumbled into an Afro and African American Studies Class because the title of the class had the word “Politics” in it, so I thought I might be able to get credit towards my Politics major for taking it. Alas, I did not, but I ended up finding the most rigorous and incredible department on campus. Step out of your comfort zone and try things you might not normally be interested in. This brings me to my next point:
2) Don’t be afraid to quit. When we are young, our parents make us continue in things like ballet and Tae Kwon Do because they want us to learn how to stick to the choices we make, and we are told that a fate worse than death is to be labeled “a quitter.” Please, for the love of God, you know that you are overcommitted. Quit something. If your activities are not giving you as much love as you are giving them, then don’t be afraid to reevaluate whether or not they are worth the time and energy that you are feeding them. There were clubs and groups that I really jived with in my underclassman years that didn’t grow with me as I got older, so I had to know when to let them go. The same goes for people. It’s okay to outgrow friendships. If you know when to end relationships with activities and people, then your memories of those things can remain fond instead of being tainted by animosity. College is an extraordinarily transformative time, so it only makes sense that you will outgrow things as you learn about yourself.
3) Stay off YikYak. Let me repeat that. STAY OFF YIKYAK. YikYak is a place where people who are too scared to bully you to your face go so that they can say mean things about you without receiving the repercussions. Don’t let your fear of missing out override your sense of self-preservation and just stay away. It’s honestly not worth it.
4) Work with kids. There is a detrimental lack of young children on college campuses, and being around children can really help to give you perspective on your own life. I have the immense pleasure of being a nanny, a babysitter, a Hebrew school teacher and previously, a coach at a local middle school. Kids are awesome because they are untainted by cynicism, unlike college kids, who think it’s so cool to be ironic and detached and aloof all the time. Kids know how to access their emotions in a really inspiring way, and they aren’t afraid to ask—and tackle—the big questions. In a world where nothing is real and everything is socially constructed and kind of sad, it’s nice to hang around people who haven’t figured that out yet. Plus they’re way more likely to draw pictures with you, so that’s cool.
5) Don’t be an asshole. There are a lot of people at this school, and some of them might be different than you and the people who you grew up with. Don’t be rude to them. Make an effort to learn about people who are different from you. If you are an asshole, then people will treat you accordingly and your bucket will remain empty because you’re an asshole and nobody will want to hang out with you. It’s okay if someone has skin that is a different color than yours, or is interested in a different discipline than you or has thoughts about Israel that are different than the ones that you have. That person is still a person, and you need to treat them as such. This means meeting them where they are and not getting fussy before you try to understand where they are coming from. Make the effort, it’s worth it. Take a class, ask questions, use Google; just do something to try and broaden your understanding of where other people are coming from.
6) Drink more water. You’re dehydrated right now; I bet you are. If you drink more water, you will stay healthier, and college is a veritable breeding ground for nasty diseases because even 20 year olds still don’t know how to wash their hands after they pee. Water will also help you feel more awake, more full and more alert. There are no downsides. Drinking water also helps you to regulate your heartbeat and breathing when you are stressed. And let’s face it; you spend most of your time stressed, don’t you?
7) Be in awe of your fellow students. Every person here, no matter how lacking in social skills, has something to teach you. If you approach each encounter like an opportunity for growth, then it will be just that. Rejoice in community with people who nourish your soul, and don’t write people off just because they are awkward or annoying or they have bad politics. As long as they are not actively harming you, you can learn something from them.
If you follow all of these steps, I can guarantee that your Brandeis experience will be whatever you make of it. My battery is so empty that I’m going to have to literally lay face down in my bed in my parents’ basement for four days after graduation, but my bucket is so full that I’ll be smiling the whole time.