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I am Stanford: Matthew Mettias

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Dear Frosh,

As a senior at Stanford, I've experienced the exhilarating and ––at times–– nerve-wracking journey that you're currently / about to embark on. My frosh year was a rollercoaster of triumphs, setbacks, and valuable lessons; I'd like to share some mini stories & “pearls of wisdom” I’ve collected from my experiences here to help you succeed in your own journey at Stanford!

In 2019, I was returning from a gap year of budget traveling throughout Southeast Asia, kalo farming, and munching down way too many Hot Cheetos. I was eager to dive into academia again, but I soon discovered that finding my place in a new Stanford community wasn't what I had originally expected from it: Despite taking on a full load of 20 units and engaging in numerous activities, at first, I struggled to find my place–– not to mention, it didn’t help comparing myself to others who seemed to have it all figured out.

After a few months, however, I realized that the more I opened up about my own personal challenges in safe spaces where respect & trust was earned, sharing my experiences only helped to create bonds that allowed the people around me to also grow as individuals. Through vulnerability and a good grouping of good people, I soon found my place among others who were also eager to express themselves authentically.

Initially finding the American mainland challenging, but by asking for help in my classes and developing relationships with those kids, I soon found community.

A few courses that deeply impacted me were PSYCH 12N: “Self Theories” taught by Dr. Carol Dweck and a GSB course called “Humor: Serious Business.” These courses taught me about the growth mindset, the power of "yet," and the vital importance of finding joy amidst stress, lessons which I’ve practiced throughout my college years.

Joining the Stanford Spoken Word Collective (SWC) was another transformative experience, which soon became my passion. Though I’d never formally done anything like it before, writing & performing poetry became the most authentic way for me to express myself and connect with others, providing a public platform for others who wanted the same.

Of course, there were obstacles, such as missing Hawai’i, but I soon discovered the importance of contributing to California communities while remaining connected to my roots. Finding support at the Haas Center and through close friends in various campus organizations made all the difference.

Throughout my time at Stanford, I've come to learn that resilience & recovery are crucial to success. It's all about learning ‘how’ to fall, getting up after stumbling, and prioritizing connection and kindness in the face of pressure and competition. As graduation nears, I'm grateful for the experiences, lifelong friendships, and lessons in grit and growth mindset I’ve learned–– the package deal that comes along with my Stanford years.

And let’s not forget the plenty of hilarious moments that I will never forget. Like the time I accidentally signed up for a fitness class instead of a dance class at Nearillaga and, way too embarrassed to leave, I ended up staying there doing push-ups instead of Zumba –– still getting a workout at the end of the day –– though not the one I expected.

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Long story short, to all you frosh out there, here’s my advice: don't be afraid to put yourself out there, find your group, and explore all that Stanford has to offer. And when you're feeling lost or unsure, remember that sometimes the biggest shared strengths come from our individual struggles. Accept your humanity, and have some fun with it too(!), remembering to hold on to your childlike wonder…

Your Stanford experience is like a canvas waiting to be painted with your unique story. As you navigate through your Stanford journey, remember that everyone's experience is also unique. Don't compare yourself to others and focus on your own goals and aspirations. It's totally okay to stumble and make mistakes (much better now than later in life), ‘long as you learn from them and move forward with resilience.

College can be challenging, but it's also your time –– a time of growth, learning, self-discovery, and creating meaningful + lasting memories. I challenge you to try one new thing everyday, whether it's joining a club, taking a class outside of your major, or even just a new Tresidder - Panda Express entrée. You never know who you might meet or what opportunities (or fortune cookies fortunes) may come your way!

Keeping your sense of humor close and your growth mindset closer–– even when life gives you push-ups instead of Zumba. Remember, one day you'll look back at even your most difficult college moments & laugh about those memories too.

In the end, embrace the challenges, celebrate the triumphs, make the most of your time at Stanford while granting yourself grace if you stumble. Nothing is lost; anything can be a growth opportunity; any time passed is a way of showing what’s important to us.

… And hey, who knows? Maybe one day you'll be a senior writing a letter of advice to the next generation of frosh.

Best of luck on your journey, and welcome to Stanford!

Zumba Or Push-Ups, Here For You!

-– Matthew

Matthew Mettias

BAS in Psychology and Science, Technology, and Society
Master’s Degree in Sustainability Science
Senior, Class of 2023

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