Congratulations (and advice) on your college/ university acceptance! (undergraduate edition)

High school has taught you all you need to know but please allow me to remind you: don’t forget to trust your intuition (I am writing this in December because I know you will get in!). You are going to be meeting a lot of new people at once, listen to your internal reactions to them. If a person or situation feels “off,” then leave at once.

Especially be wary of people who are effusively friendly. Angry and/ or snobby people send off enough danger signals that most people get the message, but the super nice can be tricky. About 42% are truly kind, 51% are being nice because they want something from you and 7% have a howling black hole of sadness/ fear/ despair/ loneliness that they will try to fill by them being so helpful to you that you will eternally grateful and their side-kick forever. This never works out well.

With some of the black-hole people you can sense their desperation under their great kindness – which is why you need to read this poem. And then read it again.

Siren Song, by Margaret Atwood

This is the one song everyone

would like to learn: the song

that is irresistible:

the song that forces men

to leap overboard in squadrons

even though they see the beached skulls

the song nobody knows

because anyone who has heard it

is dead, and the others can’t remember.

Shall I tell you the secret

and if I do, will you get me

out of this bird suit?

I don’t enjoy it here

squatting on this island

looking picturesque and mythical

with these two feathery maniacs,

I don’t enjoy singing

this trio, fatal and valuable.

I will tell the secret to you,

to you, only to you.

Come closer. This song

is a cry for help: Help me!

Only you, only you can,

you are unique

at last. Alas

it is a boring song

but it works every time.

See also:

Blossoming in Grad School – The Practicalities

Blossoming in Grad School – The Theory

Congratulations (and advice) on your college/ university acceptance! (graduate school edition)

Tales of the University Splendide and the University Superius

How to Cope with Engineers at the University Splendide

Surviving education

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