Do what you’re good at
I majored in Physics (and Math). And I struggled – a lot.
I took 2 programming classes and they were super easy. So I dismissed computer science as beneath me because it did not challenge me. Dumb decision.
The way our brains are wired, our experiences as we’ve grown up, what we’ve studied, what we’ve learned, all of that makes some areas of study easy while many others remain hard. This doesn’t mean what I find easy is easy for others. Or that it’s not something that is challenging, really challenging.
Through a series of fortunate steps about a year after graduating I switched over to programming and found that I am good at it. Really really good. And at the same time, I’ve often faced problems that pushed the limits of what I can do. It turns out programming is not easy, it’s that I have to go way in to the hardest problems to find where I have to work my ass off to succeed.
When you find something comes easy in College, that’s your brain telling you that you’ve found something you will be really good at. You’ll probably find several areas that come easy. Pick one of those as your major, and as your initial career when you graduate. I don’t regret majoring in Physics (it taught me how to think). But I would have been happier if I had majored in C.S. And had a much better GPA.
Give up, Go swimming
When you hit a brick wall on a problem, a project, anything, walk away from it. I learned after a couple of years that when I couldn’t make progress, to go swimming. It was after I had forgotten the problem and was just thinking about something random, that the solution would suddenly jump into my mind. Leave your mind alone and it will usually work it through for you.
I’ve reached the point now in work that when something has me blocked, I drop it immediately and I usually have the solution as I’m exiting the Office. Learning to let go of the problem is powerful.
Ask and Then Drop It
Tell someone what they should do and you can see their defensive shields go up and all they do is argue with you. Instead ask. “What if you…”, “What happens if…”, “Have you considered…”. In those cases the person you’re talking to will consider what you’re proposing. Doesn’t mean they’ll agree, but it’s a giant step that they’re considering it.
And then drop it. Most of the time people will not change their mind instantly. Especially on an approach they are heavily invested in. And beating on them just makes them lock in their present approach stronger. But if you leave your “question” planted and give them time to think about it, a surprising number of times in a day or so they’ll come up with your idea “on their own.”
And with that said, I still have to remind myself to do this. Constantly.
Ok, I nailed this one. Enjoy your time at school. Do all those things your parents warned you to not do. (How do they know to warn you? Because they did the same dumb things.) You’ve got your whole life ahead of you to act as a grown-up. Have fun.
And with that said, never get so drunk that you make dumb decisions. And always walk away from a fight.