Writing On a Mirror Changed My Entire Outlook on College

Aaron Smet
2 min readSep 15, 2020


Photo by Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu on Unsplash

I stayed on campus to take classes in the summer of 2016. By then I was halfway through my college career. A few of my fraternity brothers stuck around for the summer. A group of them lived on Alder Street in an apartment complex called Capri.

In the evening, I would go on a routine walk around campus. Occasionally, I would stop by their apartment unannounced. They were always happy to see a familiar face and I was happy to see one too. Jonny and I liked to watch South Park. That show always provided us with some good laughs. It was the stress reliever we needed in order to cope with the dullness of summer.

One day, I randomly decided to visit him in the middle of the day. The doors were always open, so I let myself in. He had just woken up from a nap, so I sat down next to his bed and asked him what his plans were for the rest of the day. He said he had to go work for the evening shift at Target. I could relate, I worked at Walmart the summer prior. As he was putting on his uniform, I noticed writing on his closet mirror. Writing that I hadn’t noticed before. There on his mirror was a list of names with the title “My Whys”. I asked him what that meant. He told me something I’ll never forget.

“This mirror reminds me every day that I have a family depending on me. When I graduate, I plan on going back home and helping them. I owe everything to my family. They’re the reason I’m here. It’s up to me to finish school and take care of them.”

Those words instantly changed my mindset about college. Until then, I had been so wrapped up in myself that I had forgotten the sacrifice my parents made to get me here in the first place. Maybe I had taken college for granted. Not everyone can go. College is a privilege and my parents selflessly saved their money to help pay. And all because they believe education is so important — that having a college degree will give me the best chance for financial stability.

Financial stability… that’s what they truly want for me.

That moment in his bedroom was the subtle reminder I needed. I knew exactly what I had to do — get that degree no matter what. If not for myself, then for my parents. It’s the least I can do in light of everything they’ve given me.

I’ll never forget looking at Jonny’s mirror. And I will never forget what he said. It happened at a perfect time in my college career.



Aaron Smet

I write articles about Tesla, SpaceX, and Elon.