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The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Posted by on Friday, December 14, 2018 in Many Voices, One VU, Personal Well-Being.

A.Dao
Vanderbilt is like a lottery. You need to take risks all the time.

Ana T. Dao, ’21

Vanderbilt is like a lottery. You need to take risks all the time – whether it is applying to a school you only know from pictures and brochures or sitting down with a stranger in the dining hall. There is always a possibility of everything failing, but you take the leap anyway.

I didn’t think that I belonged at Vanderbilt. Everything seemed difficult, and I hopelessly searched for an ultimate guide to success at college. Unsurprisingly, there are no guidelines. I struggled to do things that others seemed to master immediately, such as the “how are you” small talk culture or ordering food. I couldn’t connect with anyone and it seemed like I was in a bubble that separated me from others, but I created it myself with my own expectations and assumptions. My anxiety stopped me from enjoying classes or leaving my room. I realized that I needed help from the ones that weren’t drowning. Thus, I had a turbulent first semester to say at least, ranging from the psychiatric hospital to taking a lighter course load. I was a big failure.

Happiness is like a lottery. You need to take risks all the time. However, when you fail, happiness becomes even more attainable. I found that to be true when I suddenly had more time for myself. The bubble was still there, but the pressure was gone. I used my secluded space to watch others rather than worry about doing the same things as they did. To keep away dark thoughts, every day needed strategic planning. Breakfasts with my friends, Stambaugh events, walks to Hillsboro or on campus, attending as many events as possible, having a “risky” meal with a person I just met or even picking up medication and feeling adult kept me afloat. I started enjoying meeting new friends, for whom I am now very grateful. I found myself reaching out little more each day, and every new discovery felt like a small victory.

It may sound cheesy, but in a way, Vanderbilt is happiness. Sometimes, I still regret not being able to have a “normal” first semester. Happiness isn’t constant, and I am sure I will still struggle.  However, I know that my appreciation for Commons, my favorite lecture halls, the trees, and the people will always be there. I still want to take risks, though small, to try my best at this lottery.

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