With great power comes great responsibility. Knowledge is power. Does that mean that with great knowledge comes great responsibility? Whether you’re an incoming college student or a fledgling superhero, you’ll quickly learn that your new skills come at the cost of a lot of guard rails you might have relied on.
The freedom to set your own schedule, police your own behavior, and socialize with (defeat) a wider array of people (villains) than ever will often butt up against the responsibility to develop an ironclad work ethic, hone your skills, and work toward securing your future career.
For some, this opportunity allows them to spread their wings and leap into their life as an adult. For others, it can be a recipe for instability, and maybe even failure. Becoming the person you want to be is learning how to grapple with all these responsibilities and build a life around them.
But there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of success. Following Uncle Ben’s advice can help you push through college into an adulthood a hero can be proud of.
Great Power, Great Responsibility
Life is always easy until it gets hard, and it’s often hard in the same way for everyone. People start expecting things from you, and it’s up to you to follow through. This is true whether you’re going to school or dealing with a radioactive spider bite.
In college, and in life, it’s not enough to skirt by doing the bare minimum, you need to learn how to put effort into the tasks in front of you and follow through on your commitments, both to your teachers and your employers.
Sure, this means doing the assigned readings, pulling your weight in group projects, and showing up to class on time, but it also means following through on your commitments outside the classroom.
Did you promise to help a friend move? Don’t flake on them. Are you meeting up with a potential mentor? Get there on time. Is a shady character robbing the amateur wrestling federation that you’re using your newfound spider-powers to make easy money in? Stop that guy! He’s gonna kill your uncle!
Doing what’s expected of you, and doing it well, is the foundation of adulthood. These things won’t all happen at once, and you’ll probably get a few second chances along the way, but 99% of the situations adults face are directly related to their commitments. It’s important to learn how to follow through effectively to get ahead.
With great power comes great responsibility. Knowledge is power. Does that mean that with great knowledge comes great responsibility?
Mild-Mannered College Student
College and trade schooling are both versions of the same idea: paying for the opportunity to learn. It’s like being tapped to join the Avengers: you get the opportunity to work with experts and learn new skills, which will allow you to do better in the future.
In 2016, about 67% of high school grads continued their education into college or trade school. Think about it this way: as soon as you begin postsecondary education, you’re already getting access to unique opportunities that a third of your peers aren’t.
Of the two thirds of your class that decides to stay in school, effort, patience, and tenacity will determine how much you get out of it, and how valuable you become. College is your opportunity to get experiences that only half, or a quarter, or a sixth, or even 1% of people have access to.
It’s important to respect the unique power and opportunity you gain by having the ability to pursue new skills. If you were bitten on the hand by a radioactive spider, would you do something with your spider powers, or would you lay on the couch and do nothing?
You have an obligation to the world to become the best person, or hero, that you can be given the opportunity. Then again, laying on the couch can be good sometimes.
End of Spider-Man
In case you haven’t put it together already, I’m a big fan of Spider-Man. I’ve been a fan since I was a kid. There’s one thing about Spider-Man that has always set him apart from other superheroes to me – he’s human, and we get to see him dealing with human problems in human ways.
Iron Man never has to worry about paying rent. Captain America rarely struggles to make a relationship work. We never see Bruce Banner’s walk of shame to Old Navy after he hulks his way through yet another pair of chinos.
Peter Parker isn’t a billionaire playboy or an unstoppable alien. We see him oversleep and sew up holes in his suit. When he gets hurt, he doesn’t have a butler to stitch him up. Spider-Man grabs a bag of peas from the freezer and collapses on the couch. We see him deal with problems we recognize, and he deals with them in ways we recognize too.
In order to succeed personally or professionally, you need to work at a sustainable pace. Keeping yourself and your room clean, washing your clothes, getting enough sleep, managing your diet… all of these things keep you healthy and working at your full potential. All of these things are also easy to let slip.
Taking care of yourself is the first step you can take towards taking care of others. Whether you’re cooking for your significant other, caring for a child, tending to an aging parent, you’ll probably need to meet the needs of someone else at some point.
Quite a few self-help gurus make the case that self-care is part of your job. I appreciate the sentiment, but this message undermines itself. Self-care is a part of being human, and we all deserve to give ourselves some comfort and happiness to balance out the stresses of everyday life.
Cook good food, take breaks, make your bedroom or apartment or house a place you want to spend time in. It’ll help you approach your work refreshed and ready for action, and it will give you a better perspective when it’s time to care for others.
College is a safe place to try and fail at these kinds of tasks so you’re fully equipped to deal with them when you leave into the adult world. After all, failing a class is less painful than being fired from your job.
Being willing to tackle and fail at these new challenges is a crucial component of growing up, and the day-to-day nature of the problems we face makes us lose sight of the truth – that these challenges can still be heroic if we look at them the right way.
About the writer
Eric started in Quotacy's sales department, but moved to marketing after helping hundreds of people through their life insurance buying journey. Aside from writing about buying life insurance, he also edits Quotacy's monthly newsletter, runs our YouTube channel and produces Real Life, our podcast. Eric lives in Minneapolis, where his coworkers are trying to convince him to take his humor into the spotlight. Connect with him on LinkedIn.