JJ Townsend


My advice to incoming college freshmen

Today I was invited to speak to Ole Miss freshman business students at the annual Business Brunch panel. I'm always uncomfortable giving advice or insights to students because I feel like I'm still trying to figure it all out. However, I was inspired to share something that I heard on the Netflix show "Orange is the New Black" that I wish someone told me during my freshman orientation.  If you watch OITNB, you'd understand how crazy it sounds to be inspired to share something insightful to an academic group. Below is the most defining scene of the first season where Yoga Jones, an inmate and recovered alcoholic, gives advice to Piper, the main character of the show and fellow inmate.


Yoga Jones: Do you know what a mandala is?

Piper. Um, those are those round Buddhist art things?

Yoga Jones: The Tibet monks make them out of dyed sand laid out into big, beautiful designs. And when they're done after days or weeks of work, they wipe it all away.

Piper: Wow, that's--that's a lot.

Yoga Jones: Try to look at your experience here as a mandala, Chapman. Work hard to make something as meaningful and beautiful as you can and when you're done pack it in and know it was all temporary. You have to remember that--it's all temporary.

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