It’s our last Senior Wisdom of the year, and we couldn’t think of a better way we’d want to go out than with our former Editor-in-Chief. She talks about St. Augustine, Hungarian Pastry Shop, and Infinite Jest – we’re not surprised. But she also has some wonderful words of advice to leave you all with.
Name, School, Major, Hometown: Britt Fossum, the College, Chemistry, Omaha
Claim to fame: Former Bwog Editrix, Hungarian Pastry Goth, and the saddest boy in all of Columbia
Where are you going? Taking the summer off to surf every couch from Duluth to Tokyo before finally going into….plastics (starting a PhD program in Chemistry).
What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2020?
1) Learn to be comfortable on your own. There will be a lot of things you’ll want to do at Columbia and in the city and sometimes your friends are gonna be lame and bail on you last minute. Or maybe you’ll develop incredibly niche interests that no one else will be interested in. So: do ’em on your own! And in the meantime, make conversation with people when you’re out alone. I have had more wild and weird discussions with people I know I’ll never meet again than with acquaintances at 1020 I know I’m going to see again outside Butler the next day.
Addendum to #1: You’ll just exhaust yourself seeking validation from others. You do you, ’cause no one else will.
2) Eliminate any habit of hero-worship. Just because someone is older, more educated, “cooler” (whatever that means to you): it doesn’t mean they give good advice and certainly doesn’t mean the “good” advice they give will be good for you and your individual situation. Think critically about the things people tell you you should do. Start with this senior “wisdom” (do you really think a 22 year old going into grad school instead of the real world knows what she’s talking about??).
Addendum to #2: You will eventually realize that you’ve been unconsciously imitating the people you admire. Don’t feel bad about doing so, but realize when you’re doing it and make sure none of the habits you’ve picked up are embarrassing or life-threatening.
3) Shut up and Listen. In Lit Hum, when you’re talking to your friends, and especially when you’re talking to your parents. Other people have just as many things to say as you do. Sometimes those things are interesting and important, sometimes they’re trivial and trite. I assure you that they are just as worthy of an attentive listener as the drivel coming out of your own mouth.
Addendum to #3: Stand up for yourself when you know you’re in the right. Ask for extensions if you really are at your wits’ end and need more time, tell someone when they’re being out of line, and find a psych who gets you.
Also, dudes, the US was choosing between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney for president. What happened.
Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer. I’m alive, I don’t have high standards.
What was your favorite class at Columbia? Lit Hum, handily. I’m St. Augustine’s number two fan. More niche: Inorganic Chemistry with Jon Owen is what made me realize declaring a hard science major wasn’t the worst mistake of my life and that in fact I quite enjoyed chemistry and probably wanted to keep doing it for a decent chunk of my life.
Addendum: take classes above and beyond your major and far above your (perceived) ability. Why come to this venerated Ivy League institution if you’re just going to scrape by with the bare minimum required to get a degree in Pre-Finance (sorry, ECON).
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? This question is kind of a catch-22. On the one hand, most people on Bwog are sick of it and would love to retire the tired tradition. On the other hand, it’s kind of our thing (and we refuse to give it up to the likes of Buzzfeed) so we have to keep asking it forever.
One thing to do before graduating: Get a job.
Any regrets? Nothing that I’ll go on-record about. Except: should have read Infinite Jest the summer before coming to Columbia instead of the Iliad. I’d have been much better at NSOP small talk.
Note: Bwog originally posted a drafted version of this post as opposed to its final form.
Our beloved Editrix, the saddest of the sadboys via Britt Fossum