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BEZAWADA: First-years should know that mistakes are meant to be made

Opinions Column: Traipse the Fine Line

To this year’s first-years, here is a short story of what not to do to survive the school year.

The Daily Targum submission schedule, at least for op-ed columnists, requires that the writer submit his or her article by 3 p.m. the day before it is scheduled to be published. My articles are released on Wednesdays.

Here I am, on a Tuesday, in Busch Dining Hall, rewriting my entire article 3 hours before deadline.

It is rather amusing because this is exactly the kind of scenario I was warned against since I was a first-year, yet I am experiencing it again. It is the epitome of the adage "history repeats itself."

As I write this, my point seems to be as such — do not leave things until the last minute. Or, do not procrastinate. Or, be responsible. Well, those are all true. Better to avoid trouble even if it sacrifices some of the freedom so desperately desired in college. That is what any grounded, rational, reasonable, logical person will tell you. 

But I would like to veer my first article of the year in a different direction.

My anecdote is incomplete. The question you might be asking at this point is, why did you postpone writing this article for such a long time? In my case, the answer is quite simple, but also understandably astounding.

I just forgot.

Normally, I am a very conscientious person. The transition from a sheltered high school upperclassman to a newborn in a world almost 20 times larger conditioned me to be acutely particular about due dates and deadlines, to scrutinize course syllabi as if they were my lifeline. After all, I was a first-year myself. The transition phase is daunting to some and thrilling to others depending on the way they cope with their newfound freedom. I coped by buying a planner for the first time in my life and actually putting in the effort to fill it out. I worked hard to maintain a balanced lifestyle in the face of distant deadlines disguised as more than enough time.

And yet, despite all of that effort, I almost forgot — quite literally — my first assignment of my second year.

It just slipped my mind. The impending article had been in the back of my mind, and I was aware that it had to be completed. Maybe it was the vestiges of a relaxing summer that had left me in a daze, maybe it was the sudden scramble for classes during this hectic add-drop period. Whatever it was, I confused my article’s submission time and, oh wow — almost 30 minutes have passed already. I have class in an hour. I better get it done by then.

These days, there is so much pressure to be punctual. There is an increasing demand for quality in an environment abundant with choices and requirements but bereft of time. That most assignments are submitted online leaves no room for mistakes. 

More pressingly, it seems that the necessity of proof has skyrocketed. Absent from class? Hand over your doctor’s note. Forgot your homework? Why? Prove that you did it. Or just forget it altogether. Want to land this job? Sure, but where is your prior experience in the field? What justifies you as a good fit? It seems no error is valid without proper documentation. Not even a hobby you are adept at looks good on a resume without some kind of official, recorded proof or recommendation letter. Nowadays, everything needs a reason. The good old "I have worked hard and I have done everything before" will not work.

So you try to fabricate an excuse. As if your feelings need proof of origin to be considered acceptable. Yet oftentimes the truth is inside you, but you are frightened to reveal it:

I do not know.

I forgot.

I did not want to.

They are the most base excuses. They are borderline rude. And it might seem like a radical thought, but I propose to you that those excuses — within reason — are fine.

No matter how hard you try, sometimes you slip up and there is no viable explanation except I have no idea how. I have written columns for the Targum for the past whole year, and I just happened to forget today. I am not ashamed to admit that because it is the undisputable truth.

Make mistakes without fear. They will happen, to everybody, most for no substantial reason. What is important is you learn from them, no matter how many tries it takes. Ace the next exam. Make up the homework next class. Maintain a planner. Give yourself a chance. You are filled with undiscovered feelings, dreams and unbridled talent, and you have got nothing to lose. I would just recommend not beginning papers 3 hours before deadline. It is not prudent. Unless you want to realize that for yourself, in which case I am all for it, but good luck to you.

Sruti Bezawada is a Rutgers Business School sophomore double majoring in marketing and communications and minoring in Japanese. Her column, “Traipse the Fine Line,” runs every alternate Wednesday.


*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

YOUR VOICE | The Daily Targum welcomes submissions from all readers. Due to space limitations in our print newspaper, letters to the editor must not exceed 500 words. Guest columns and commentaries must be between 700 and 850 words. All authors must include their name, phone number, class year and college affiliation or department to be considered for publication. Please submit via email to oped@dailytargum.com by 4 p.m. to be considered for the following day’s publication. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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