Last week a snapchat memory notification popped up on my phone reminding me that three years ago to that day was my first day at Georgetown. I wasn’t on campus because #covidschool and the selfie was taken in my old bedroom at home. But, it was funny looking back at that selife: after months of lockdown my eyebrows desperately needed cleaning up, I had absolutely no remnants of a summer tan because I had spent the whole summer indoors, but I still looked excited for what was to come!
It’s been a while since I thought about that day, but seeing that first day of school photo got me feeling kind of nostalgic. I recently had my last first day of school at Georgetown and my roommates and I all got ready and sat on the steps to our cute little Georgetown townhouse and took our last first day of school photo *cries* – definitely a change from my first day. Going to classes on my last first day just felt so weird, like how did I get to this point where this is my last year of school? I kept trying to gaslight myself and was saying to myself, “no it hasn’t been that long” but it has fully been three years since I started college and in those three years a lot has happened.
I remember on that first day when I took that selfie, professors were just starting to post the syllabi for their classes. I remember I was signed up for this history class which I absolutely did not want to take, but taking 2 history courses is a requirement at Georgetown, and I took one look at the syllabus and dropped the course. This sounds dramatic, but in the first week of classes we have this thing called “add/drop” where you can freely add and drop courses while you’re deciding on your schedule; I took one look at that syllabus and felt so intimidated that I immediately dropped it.
It’s kind of funny because after that I started searching for a new, and potentially easier, history course to take and luckily I found one that looked cool and signed up for it. The only problem was that the course met an hour after I had just signed up for it so I had to email the professor to get the Zoom link in time to join the meeting… and this is where I made my first mistake (or at least it seemed like a big mistake at the time). I had started my email with “Dear Professor __” and when she replied to me she corrected her name to “Dr. __ “, I remember freaking out that I had offended her. Low and behold, I join the Zoom an hour later and one of the first things that she says to the class when she introduces herself is how she prefers to be referred to as “Dr.” and not “Professor”; I remember dying of embarrassment right there. And to make matters worse, the class was filled with upperclassmen but when we were called on to individually introduce ourselves, of course I was picked on to go first, which for a timid freshmen was very scary! We then went on to start discussing the readings that we were meant to complete before that class, and I was like… what readings?! Needless to say, I left that Zoom call and promptly dropped that course too.
In the end, I did find a great history class that I ended up learning a lot from, but I share these stories for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because they’re funny to think back to now; at the time they seemed like the biggest deal or the biggest mistake I could possibly make, but in reality they weren’t that bad. And secondly, because I want to emphasize just how intimidated and cautious I was when I started out my Georgetown journey; throughout that whole first year I would constantly be thinking to myself, “am I smart enough to be here” or “am I smart enough to be in this class” and I would always severely doubt it. Even when I got to campus the next year, I would always get so freaked out during add/drop week when professors would go over their syllabi in class and talk about what’s expected from me. Honestly, even up until the end of my junior year, I would always have to tell myself to calm down, that I was smart enough to do these courses, and to not quickly drop the class in the first week. This was something I was thinking a lot about as I started senior year because this year was the first year that I didn’t entirely freak out in the first week. Maybe it’s an early onset of senioritus and I’m just overall more relaxed, but I think it has to do more with the fact that I just feel more confident in my abilities going into senior year!
Sometimes it’s hard to recognize growth as you’re going along and it takes a very clear signpost or comparison for you to step back and think “wow, I’ve actually grown so much” which is what I wrote about in a post last year. But I think that reflecting on my first day of school and last first day of school was exactly that for me. Over the past three years at Georgetown I’ve definitely learned a lot about lots of different subjects and I’ve learned practical life skills like how to be an adult, how to file my taxes, and how to set up a mouse trap, but one of the areas that I think I’ve grown the most is in my personal confidence. When I started out as a freshmen I very much operated under the “fake it until you make it” mentality; I would fake it in class and then go home and subsequently freak out that I wouldn’t get the grades or that I didn’t belong in that class etc… But now, I feel like I’m not really faking it? Yes, a lot of the time I’m still slightly worried about my grades or how I’m going to perform on an exam, but it’s not to the extent that I’m doubting my abilities, it’s more that I’m jut nervous for how it will go.
It’s easy to say that I would go back to my freshmen year self and tell her to just believe in herself more and to not be scared – she got into Georgetown for a reason and deserves to be here! But, that’s just not that helpful in reality, at least to someone like me. I think one of the main reasons that I was able to get to this major milestone of not freaking out when I look at a class syllabi in my senior year (sounds stupid, I know) is because I’ve had all of this experience that has led me to believe that I am good enough – evidence to support the belief if you want to think of it in that way. Through all the moments over the past three years where I’ve done a piece of work that I’m proud of, gotten a good grade, or excelled at a presentation, I’ve slowly been building up my self confidence and I didn’t notice until now.
Sometimes growth doesn’t look as glamorous as achieving some big award or achievement, sometimes it’s just a single moment that pushes you to put time and experience into perspective. It doesn’t have to be something that we’re always thinking about in the back of our minds, but can sometimes just be something that’s passive and happening as we make our way through our different life experiences. So here’s your gentle reminder that you are growing! As you read this post, whether or not you’re going through a great phase of life or a slightly rough time, you planted that seed, your experiences are nurturing it, and you will eventually grow!
See you next week,