Updated: Jan 31
We had the opportunity of interviewing Nicholas Anderson, a student at University of Pennsylvania, about: Balanced Life
Nick is a first-generation college student at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Engineering Entrepreneurship. In high school, Nick was involved and held leadership positions in NHS, student government, American Red Cross, varsity soccer, jazz band, and founded the Youth-In-Action chapter. His collegiate involvements/leadership positions can be found on his LinkedIn or Website: nickjanderson.com | https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholas-j-anderson1/
Key points Nicholas shares:
I can’t stress the importance of maintaining your mental health. Especially as men, we often think that it’s better to hide our feelings out of fear of appearing weak. Never be afraid to reach out to someone for help. Two things motivated me - the experiences that I had from traveling, and the people around me.
Q: What is something you wish you knew while you were in high school?
A: That other people's opinion of you does not define your reality. As someone who cares a lot about helping others, it was natural for me to care about what others think. As a result, I thought far too much about appearance and social standing, pretty much until my freshman year in college. I have no regrets, life is all about compound learning, but if I could redo one thing, I would’ve thrown away my hairbrush.
Q: How would you describe the experience of travelling to 40 countries and how it impacted your life?
A: Traveling was everything and I’m blessed to have been able to do so much of it at such a young age. If you were to line me up with the 550 other students in my high school class, the one thing that really set me apart was my exposure to the rest of the world. The more perspectives you can internalize and draw upon the more successful you’ll be in meetings, discussions, and solving problems. More than that, there is no doubt in my mind that experience is the best teacher. What I’ve been able to witness is the reason why I did and continue to push myself every single day. It’s the reason for prioritizing happiness and giving back. I learned more valuable things about life from my trip to Central Africa than I ever could have from all of the courses I took in high school, and that is a fact. Seeing the world is the best thing you can do for yourself, your friends, and your family.
Q: When things get overwhelming, have you ever felt like giving up? If so, how did you get motivated to keep going?
A: Definitely. I can’t stress the importance of maintaining your mental health. Especially as men, we often think that it’s better to hide our feelings out of fear of appearing weak. Never be afraid to reach out to someone for help. Two things motivated me - the experiences that I had from traveling, and the people around me. Through seeing the world, I learned that no matter how bad it gets, there’s always someone out there going through something worse. Everything will ultimately be okay. However, being able to talk to really solid, compassionate, and open people has been my true crutch in times like these. Surround yourself with people who motivate and inspire you, but also people who you can laugh and cry with.
Q: What are some things you wish you had done in high school to better take care of yourself?
A: First and foremost, I wish I would’ve packed lunch. I went all four years of high school without consistently eating lunch. I really didn’t want to spend the money on school lunch, and I didn’t allow myself the time in the morning to prepare anything. It sounds like something with such small repercussions, but you’d be surprised at how much of an effect eating good food can have on breaking up a mentally taxing day. Please eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner - yes school starts early, but your health is what will carry you through your day. Aside from that I list:
Daily meditation - for mental fortitude
Dancing breaks - for some mental and physical fun
Getting rid of social media - to focus on what really matters
as three other things that would have really benefited me in high school.
Q: Do you have anything else you would like to add? Any final words of wisdom?
A: Don’t sweat the small stuff! In the grand scheme of things, your performance on one quiz, in one class, that takes place over the course of just a few months really does not matter. After all, we are just specks of dust on a rock in the middle of an infinite universe. At least get up and dance every once in a while...
Thanks for reading!
While you’re here, connect and learn more about Nicholas on his LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholas-j-anderson1/
If you were interested in this article, read more about Balanced Life here: https://www.alumnianswers.org/articles/categories/balanced-life
If you want to learn more from our interviewees about attending a school like UPenn, read more here: https://www.alumnianswers.org/articles/tags/upenn
Have more questions based on what you’ve read or any you would like us to ask alumni? Submit them here!