SIFTING FOR GOLD
Hannah Waters, ’19, Peabody College
I came to Vanderbilt sure as the sun that I would know my place as soon as I set foot on campus. But this feeling was far from the reality of my transition.
I began the school year as a member of the Spirit of Gold Marching Band, one of the largest spirit organizations at Vandy. As soon as my family’s car drove up, I was whisked away and immediately given a new home. Doing something I loved with people that were just as passionate about it as me was amazing, but after several weeks, I realized I wanted to form more connections with the other first- years. So I came back to The Commons.
First, I started attending dinners at Dean Beasley’s home and was exposed to people and opportunities I did not know existed. I even grew closer to the Dean herself and gained the confidence to reach out to other administrators for everything from advice on how to be successful on campus to a one-on-one interview for a class. I tried to take advantage of as many opportunities as I could on The Commons, looking for my community, my place.
While participating in events, running from meeting to meeting and rushing through my classwork, I found I was still lonely. The people I met in organizations were awesome, but I was afraid to reach out to people beyond the meetings, feeling like I was imposing. It seemed everyone else had already found their place, while I was still searching. I realized that I needed to step outside of my comfort zone.
East House’s smallness lends itself to a tight-knit community, but I had yet to experience it. Late one night, one of our peers broke down emotionally, and right away the typically blasting music was silenced and the door closed for privacy. We listened to them talk about their past and current struggles at college; I couldn’t believe how a still-new group of friends could react with such compassion. I knew then I wanted to make genuine connections with these people. After seeking my place all over campus, in the end, I found my community – my home – in my house.
I have come to realize that no matter how prepared you think you are, the transition to college may still take you by surprise. I know now that I do not need one identifying group of people to belong with, rather my place is spread among different parts of campus that together make Vanderbilt home.
Don’t worry if it seems like it is taking a long time to find your place. For some people it comes quickly, but for others it takes a while. As long as you do not limit yourself, pursue your passions and take chances, you’ll find the community or communities that make you feel like you belong.