I never pondered the power of free will, aside from fleeting considerations sparked by books or movies, until I arrived at college. College students, or any individuals venturing into the world, are not versed in the profound effects of free will when first experienced. Most learn of the feeling of independence that will overwhelm them at the start of this next step in their lives. However, that feeling fades quickly.
While independence is a state of autonomy, free will is a state of power. My first semester, independence mesmerized me, as I finally had the ability to make my own decisions about where to eat or, as my friends would consider most important, when to wake up. But by the second semester the euphoria that had captivated me smoldered. After having exhausted most of the exciting adventures I had so yearned to complete, what remained was the heavy responsibility of responsibility for myself. Did I have to make my own dinner, did I have to finish that last bit of reading, and did I really have to clean the bathroom?
A period of anxiety settled in after this realization, the realization that I had just as much free will to continue as a high achieving busy body or to sit back and coast, and almost nobody would notice or care either way. I eased up on my exercise routine, cleaned less, and found it harder to do extra studying beyond the minimum requirement of homework. While most did not notice, I found that I was happier when I was on top of my game.
I realize now that you have to be self-motivated to work hard and be responsible. Just because no one seems to take notice does not mean that your hard work does not matter. The small tasks you complete everyday shape the image you project to everyone you know. Actions, no matter how small, affect how people see you and thus how they interact with you. To gain respect from others you must first find that motivation to work hard within yourself. If you are not self-motivated, the actions that lead others to revere you never become routine and thus never become a part of your outer identity. Believe that free will is an opportunity to follow your good intentions toward success. Become comfortable with yourself, have faith that your hard work will lead to your success, and channel that drive inwards so that it will project outward and reward you with your dreams.