I still remember my first day of college. I walked into my Comparative Politics class and scanned the room. Everyone seemed to be wearing different versions of the same outfit. They looked like clones. They all were all mindlessly staring at their iPhones, or rummaging through their email — in effort to avoid making direct eye contact with one
another — or God forbid initiating a conversation.
I sat down and scrolled through Facebook on my phone and sighed, imitating the rows of clones. The second the professor walked in the class immediately corrected their relaxed posture, and put the Apple products to the side. He turned on a projector and rambled about the start of the semester. Precisely 27 minutes of the lecture had
gone by until I felt absolutely hopeless. He was rambling about the Cuban missile crisis one second and the Arab Spring the next. Somewhere between the Japanese economy and the difference between a state and nation, I realized my mind was now processing everything as gibberish.
I looked around the room, and saw the concentrated ease-filled faces of my peers as they nodded at the professor with empathy in their contemplation. “Has anyone ever been to Poland?’ He asked the class. The lecture was now steered towards the direction of Eastern Europe. The petite girl next to me with purple streaks in her hair nodded as she shared her experience, “Oh yes, It’s a beautiful country. I feel I didn’t completely understand the influence that early 20th century Soviet Marxist ideologies had on the country until I encountered it myself in person visiting Krakow last summer.”
A stern-faced boy with a buzz cut a fraternity sweatshirt raised his hand. “But let’s be honest today in modern Poland post 1989 communists barely influence the politics, economics, or even the society within the country.”
As, Buzz cut and Purple Hair began their debate quoting the Communist Manifesto, I pondered to myself. I knew absolutely nothing about Poland. I knew nothing about communism other than it was bad and Russian from my 8th grade civics class. I didn’t know about the Cuban missile crisis. My mind’s self-pitying stream of thoughts was drowning itself in all it didn’t know. I barely had any notes written. How did I even get into this university? I was now divulged into a realm of insecurity. Maybe I was just some lucky idiot, who by some random streak of luck was admitted.
That was when I heard the thump of books, and the professor turning off his projector. Everyone had left the classroom except for Purple Hair. She stared directly at me and sighed, before patting me on the shoulder. She must have noticed that I was slightly hyperventilating next to her.
“Listen, I’m going to tell you something that no one ever told me. Everything is all bullshit.” She said.
“Excuse me?” I stared at her aghast.
“You’re smart. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here. Don’t be intimidated. We’re all just really good at bullshitting. Just read what’s on the syllabus. Wikipedia whatever you don’t know, and have confidence when you talk about it. Pretend you’re very interested from the core of your heart, cause they can tell when you’re faking. That’s all it is. I’m only telling you cause I wish someone had told me.”
“Um Thanks.” I said. She left me completely speechless.
Although I didn’t agree with her that education was indeed bullshit. Her words brought me a bizarre solace, and reassured me that I was in fact exactly where I belonged despite my insecurities. Sometimes, I wonder if I made her up completely as by product of my imaginative subconscious, because what she said to me was exactly what I needed to hear the most. I never doubted myself again.
It occurred to me today, that these might be the words that some other people might need to hear just badly as I once did, given not only the rising number of college dropouts, but the rising number of kids facing depression, and dealing with an alarming amount of anxiety. Breathe in and breathe out. This is not a cure or a solution, this is simply an open letter to my fellow insecure college students, letting
them know — I sat next you once last semester, we had a class together, and I, like many others that won’t admit it; feel exactly the same way you do.
As humans we are taught and conditioned to behave as though we have everything together — even when we don’t. We get so caught up in our daily life that we have a tendency to forget, everyone has faults that they hide and try to avoid acknowledging. No one is perfect, no matter how perfect they seem. Not even that one girl you know with a fashion blog — we’re all human. It’s okay. Just do what you have to do, and
don’t worry about anyone else. It’s okay if you didn’t get an A this time on that paper. It’s alright to eat that red velvet cupcake and not count the carbs sometimes. You’re not lazy for sleeping in on Sunday morning — sometimes your body needs the extra sleep. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re studying English Literature, Theology, Economics, or Biology. The message is the same. You are smart, you belong, and you’ve worked hard to get where you are. Don’t ever doubt yourself, or allow the presence of someone whether it be a pseudo intellectual or a supermodel to change your opinion of yourself. You are what you believe you are. The Sufi poet Saadi once said, “Human beings are members of a whole, in creation of one essence and soul.”
Even though, I don’t know you personally. Before I walk of your life like the possibly self-conjured girl with purple hair walked out of mine. I want to tell you one thing. I’m telling no one else except you this. Do not accredit this someone else, or brush it off as though it is something I’m saying to be being nice. I’m rarely nice. I’m just honest. And, all that I need to tell you very badly is this : I’m proud of you.
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