At Thanksgiving dinner, my cousin and I (both sophomores in college) were reminiscing over how much we had changed in the past year. On a day-to-day basis, I never noticed the progression of change that was happening - my increase in confidence and outgoingness. It was only when I thought about who I was last year (as a person) in comparison to this year, that I realized the significant difference.
I attribute my boost of confidence to my experiences here at Oxy, which is one of the reasons I love this school.
Oxy provided me with ample opportunities to explore and pursue my interests. I have always been interested in writing/journalism. In high school, I was constantly hesitant to apply for a position on the school newspaper because of my inexperience - (apparently diary writing doesn’t count, sorry). However, when I came to Oxy, I decided that I would step out of my comfort zone and try new things/experiences. My mantra was if it doesn’t work out, at least I can say that I tried. I applied for the Occidental Weekly (the school newspaper) and landed the position of blogger, which I absolutely loved. It allowed me to pursue an interest of mine and helped me realize that, while I may not want to minor in journalism, I do want keep my writing ongoing. My position on the Occidental Weekly and as a blogger for Student Voices has made me become more confident in my abilities.
My thoughts and ideas were never disregarded, but instead challenged to be pushed further. I was always the individual to keep quiet in class because she was afraid of answering incorrectly/saying the wrong thing. When I came to Oxy, I was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming professors were to all ideas and thoughts - there were no wrong answers. Professors will challenge you to take your thought/idea one step further, but you will not walk out of class with the mentality that your idea/thought was disregarded. I now know that when I answer, I won’t be told that I am wrong - which gives me the confidence to answer and speak up.
Individuals are very welcoming. This statement is pretty self-explanatory. As cliche as it sounds, I cannot think of many instances when individuals have not been friendly and welcoming. Professors are always eager to engage in conversation with students, and encourage them to come to office hours. They want to help and are very approachable. Before coming to Oxy, I had a fear of approaching individuals (especially professors) - even when I really needed to. My nervousness would be exemplified in my stuttering interaction with professors, and at times, even with peers. Now, while I still get initial nervousness, I am much more inclined/confident to go to office hours versus finding a reason to avoid it.
There is always a place for you. Whether that extends to friend groups or to student clubs/organizations, there is a place for every individual. It may not happen instantaneously, but the important element to remember is to not become discouraged, lose hope and give up. It took me almost a year to smile and say (with confidence) that I have found my place and could not be happier. You will find that place, where you can be yourself, be challenged, and overall be happy.
I know I did, and I owe it to Oxy for taking a chance on me.