Deniz Gulay

In a way, what I have to say here is both a message to you, the reader, and perhaps also a message in a bottle, a source of inspiration to my future self — embrace change and always be willing to try something new. You are made of what you experience in life.

I personally spend a lot of time thinking the concept of free will. The uncertainty behind this idea boils down to whether we can choose the path we take in life, or if everything has already been decided for us. If there is one piece of advice I could give to you, especially if you are a freshman who just started their life at Binghamton University, it is to believe that you do have free will and to use that power to its fullest extent to experience what is available to you. Your future is is built upon what you choose to experience today, which will unlock what you will be capable of doing in the years ahead.

My life both here on campus and in the United States challenged me to not remain stationary, and I learned to embrace change frequently and swiftly. In fact, much like how exercise is important for physical health, I realized that being adaptable as a person was equally important for personal growth. When I first came to Binghamton, I was also a fresh immigrant to the United States, and learning and adapting to the differences in language, people and culture was arduous at every step of the way. In a way, being far away from home and the life I was used to pushed me outside of my comfort zone, which in turn motivated me to experience more of what was new and unfamiliar to me.

I never knew what would be the next new interesting thing that I would do, so I approached every new opportunity I had with the same level of curiosity and interest. That was essentially the motivation with which I became quite active on campus during my first year. In the span of just a year, I got into an honors class in which I did research on local history, joined a number of clubs to meet people from all kinds of backgrounds and joined Pipe Dream to become the columnist I am today.

Mind you, none of what I did is a strict guide for your life. The things that will add depth and novelty to your college years will depend entirely on what your interests are and what you are passionate about. Nevertheless, the key principle here is that any new experience you can go through — big or small — will add a new quirk to your personality. Having a broader range of opportunities also greatly helps with self-confidence, as each new addition to your life on campus makes you a more talented and versatile person. Needless to say, an active life makes for a longer cover letter, which would be especially beneficial in your future endeavors.

At any rate, what is crucial to keep in mind is that the years we have as students here are the only times when we will be this young and this free. There are already a variety of ways to try new things here thanks to the amount of clubs and student bodies on campus, but the most important thing to maintain is your will to be curious and experience something out of the ordinary. From my personal experience, apathy is going to be your biggest enemy, and any number of reasons can slow down you during your time here.

My advice on staying active and enthusiastic would be to seek motivation not from anything or anyone outside, but from within yourself. Ask yourself if you could be content with what you have in your hands today — if the answer is no, that will be the spark that will motivate you as a start. The things that interest and excite you the most should guide you to set goals for your own future and what you learn from experiences along the way can also truly change the direction you take in life. Becoming a columnist brought that change to my life, and the amount of new opportunities in my own life means that any other option out there has the same potential for yours.

Truthfully, the current moment in our hands as students is the best time to try something new, whether it be the arts, science, writing, music or anything else. We also should keep in mind that we humans are not trees — we don’t grow roots below ourselves and we can always change where we are and what we do. Most importantly, what you try out today will add to your wisdom, as those experiences you gain today will grant you the freedom to choose your tomorrow for yourself.

Deniz Gulay is a sophomore majoring in history.

Views expressed in the opinions pages represent the opinions of the columnists. The only piece that represents the view of the Pipe Dream Editorial Board is the Staff Editorial.