One of the most difficult challenges of college is also the one that almost everyone struggles with: conforming.
“Well, you can’t worry about what other people think, right?” Claire Underwood, one of the main characters of my favorite show, House of Cards, hit the nail on the head there. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my college career is to go for it. Make mistakes. Take chances. You can’t focus on what other peoples’ standards are. You have to have your own standards, your own beliefs, and your own values, and you have to exceed those qualities on a daily basis.
One of the most difficult challenges of college is also the one that almost everyone struggles with: conforming. However, if you conform, you lose who you are. You lose everything you have worked to become the past 17/18/19 years. We all fall prey to this trap, but the goal is to overcome this all-inclusive identity and take the challenges you know will push you to become the best you. If I had conformed, I would have graduated in four years, not three and a half. If I had conformed, I wouldn’t be on my way to defending an honors thesis. If I had conformed, I would not have travelled halfway around the world to live in a foreign country for four months. If I had conformed, I never would have met the man who, the wonderful partner that he is, pushes me to be my best at every turn. I never would have had the opportunity to travel to Brazil in two months to spend six months learning Portuguese and teaching English - and I definitely would not have had the courage had I not stepped on that plane to fly to France more than a year ago.
Sixteen months ago, I was struggling with the decision to give in to the world, take the easy way, and opt out of the French exchange program that I desperately wanted. It would have been easy to stay here at Emory, do a short-term study abroad trip to a francophone country, and not be immersed in French for four months. BUT I went for it. I took the chance. I fought the regulations of the school, I waded through the paperwork, I travelled to Atlanta to get the student visa, and I stepped on that plane. Looking back, I can say that it was one of the top five decisions of my life. I now have the confidence to speak in French fluently, I have the courage to travel to other countries knowing that I am capable of navigating and planning my way, and I met the love of my life. It all sounds cliché, but it’s what college life is all about.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog: “Reflection.”
Photo description: Kaitlyn gives Lucas a tour of Emory & Henry College campus while he is here visiting her from Brazil. Photography by Jessica Myer ‘18