2022 Co-President Interview: PART 3
Updated: Apr 11
In part 3, the final segment of our interview, Ava and Harrison will reflect upon their uni experiences. The challenges they have faced may resonate with many students, so they have also provided a few pieces of advice to our readers.
Q7: Both of you are high achievers having participated in many extracurricular activities whilst being very academically accomplished. What challenges did you guys encounter in becoming who you are today?
“Everyone you look up to and everyone you think is doing perfect has made sacrifices in their life that you don’t see.”
I went to the Dean’s list ceremony in first year and everyone had some ridiculously high mark. I was just this random kid who literally didn’t know a single person whereas the others all knew each other because they were a part of the same high-achieving circle. I left that ceremony having massive imposter syndrome even though I was obviously going to the ceremony as a very high achieving person. So every single person who you think is ridiculously smart and has all their crap together, never actually has their crap together and never actually feels like they are on top of the world.
There’s always this thing in student circles where people pedestal people who are more high-achieving than them. And I think that’s sometimes a dangerous way to view life because everyone has their own challenges. And I think to say that just because someone has more achievements than someone else, they have fewer challenges is a fallacy.
In terms of challenges I faced, I think the biggest thing for me, which may not be the most conventional opinion is losing your personality a little bit. Sometimes when you're a high achiever, there are expectations placed upon you by other people and sometimes yourself to achieve certain things. And you feel this pressure to be a certain way and do certain things. I think this is something that I really struggled with. Because in reality, I think I'm very multi-dimensional. I like creative arts. I like meeting new people, exploring new places, trying new things. Career and academics are just one small part of all the things I like doing. But sometimes when you get labelled as a high achiever, you feel like you need to upkeep this appearance despite it going against your values and what you actually like doing. When these behaviours that are against your values occur for a long enough period of time, you begin to kind of lose your self-confidence, self-esteem and I guess, sense of identity.
Another big challenge that is relatable to students is burning out and working too hard. I think one thing that a lot of students might resonate with, is that at uni, a lot of people are driven by the anxious need to compare themselves to others. It can sometimes reach a point where people don’t prioritise their health. It’s always “I’m going to prioritise my marks, my career, going out, making sure I’m doing everything right”, and taking care of yourself and doing things that actually matter to you is at the bottom of the priority list. I think if you live a lifestyle like that, your health can deteriorate like mine has before. So that’s probably another challenge.
“If you aren’t content with who you are as a person, then you’ll never be truly happy”
I say one challenge was constantly comparing myself to other people. Because in the circle that I have chosen to immerse myself in, I'm constantly surrounded by people who are super smart, cool, pretty, do amazing things, have several grad roles lined up.
And constantly comparing yourself to people, especially in societies, where there's a high concentration of high achieving students, you will never be completely satisfied with where you are at. This can be detrimental to your mental health; it can keep you up at night. And yeah, I think at this stage, I'm still not satisfied with where I am at the moment. I always feel like I have more to achieve, another rung in the ladder to climb.
I would say, if you aren’t content with who you are as a person, then you’ll never be truly happy. That’s always something that I'm working towards. I think everybody is special. Everyone has their own talents and their own personality. And that should be something that's celebrated.
“Complacency is the greatest enemy of success”
Another big challenge for me was coming to a foreign country, knowing no one and knowing nothing. That was a very humbling experience. Because when you're not in your comfortable environment, everything is quite daunting. Everything seems so big, and you seem so small. And yeah, a big way of me overcoming that was just to suck it up. Even though I might fall flat on my face, just try everything and do everything. So my mentality was complacency is the greatest enemy of success. That’s why I pushed myself to apply for loads of societies, to apply for all these consultancy programs, to try all these case comps. And even if I didn't get it to the society or win the case comp, at least I tried. It builds a tougher exterior around you. I would say if I didn’t try and fail, I 100% wouldn’t be in the position I am in today.
I want to add one more thing, especially for the first-years reading this. Another challenge for me was struggling to make friends coming in as a first-year. I didn’t know anyone at uni. I felt very dejected after putting myself out there so many times and still not being able to meet people that I wanted to meet.
It’s definitely a challenge at first and you might feel a bit isolated. But as Ava said, once you persevere, and you put yourself out there enough, eventually you will be able to meet the people that you want to meet and share the same values with.
Put yourself out there to as many diverse places as possible. So don't just apply for ten business societies. Apply to ten different societies. Put yourself in different groups with different types of people.
The second thing is, find older students and mentors who will be able to give you advice about how can get through your challenges. Because I didn’t have one, which is why I was struggling for so long.
Q8: What is one piece of advice you want to give to students?
“Surround yourself with a diverse range of people that inspire you in different ways.”
I think that’s the biggest value that you can provide to yourself. You don’t want to be surrounded by people who only care about careers. Be with people who are really driven with their careers. Be with people who are very spontaneous and love going to new places. Yes, you would want a few friends who are really, really academic and intelligent and constantly, you know, reading and research and writing. But you also want a few friends who are really, really creative and like playing music every single week.
The more friends who inspire you in particular dimensions of their themselves that you could surround yourself with, I think the more well-rounded and interesting as a person you become.
“Stay hungry and say yes”
My piece of advice would be to stay hungry and say yes. There’s going to be a plethora of opportunities at uni. Whether that be meeting new friends, joining a program, starting a business, or even going to a cruise or going to a bar. All of these opportunities are there. But once you’re out of uni, it’s a different story. Once you’re working nine to five, five days a week, you’re never going to have this much diversity in what you’re being offered, and what you’re able to learn. So just say yes. Even though you might be scared, you might not totally understand what this program offers or what the society does. Just say yes and try it out because you never know what will come from it.
Let's say you go to a party, you might be nervous, you might not know anyone there, but you might meet one person that you really vibe with, and they might be your best friend for the next three years. Take on these opportunities, because you never know what's going to come out of them. All these little things could accumulate to something fantastic that your little mind in first-year can't even fathom. If I had said no to a bunch of things, I wouldn't have met the amazing people that I know today.
So remember to grab within reason and stretch yourself! That’s the whole point of being young and energetic. Do things that are not simply just studying or working. Do things that actually add to your personality. So when someone says, tell me about yourself, you're not just saying I study commerce and I work at this firm. I’m now even pivoting my advice; I’d say become that person that other people think is really cool and interesting.
“Go wide and then go deep”
I know you asked for one piece of advice, but I really want to add this. I think this is actually good advice that I definitely would’ve benefited from and it’s kind of a mix of what Ava was saying before. Go wide and then go deep. Try as many things as possible. Spread yourself. Join a dance group, join a consulting program, volunteer, join a cultural society, play sports. Go wide. Then once you try all these things, it's gonna allow you to figure out as a person what you like and you're going to see what resonates with you and what doesn't. This will then allow you to identify your values. And once you stay true to your values, you will find what you actually care about.
Let’s say you really, really love sports, then yeah, just play heaps of sports. Or if you are really, really invested in your career because you feel like it intellectually stimulates you, then do all of these things. But don’t go deep into something before you’ve gone wide. It has to happen in that order. Otherwise you will never get to know all the things that you could be doing instead and I think that’s what too many uni students do.
This marks the end of our 2022 Co-President interview. On behalf of BusinessOne, we hope you have enjoyed getting to know our presidents as well as B1 as a whole. Stay tuned for more articles released via our newsletters and we look forward to seeing you at our future events!
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Interviewer and Editor: Lynne Jiang