Confessions and Blind Walks

A cacophony of banging hit the dorm like a hailstorm. I mumbled and grunted in my sleep and willed the banging to go away. But when fists continued to make contact with the hallow walls of my room, I jolted out of bed, hit with the sudden revelation that it was an earthquake. What was I to do? Stay in my room? Climb out onto the roof of the patio? Run downstairs to the dorm lobby?

Wake up! Wake up!

Yells seeped between the cracks of the door and my panic escalated. I turned the handle cautiously, my mind running through scenarios of the absurd and horrendous. And as I peeked around the edge of my wooden door, I found half a dozen people before me.

“Wake up your roommate, put on warm clothes and shoes, and go downstairs!”

I did as I was told and when I arrived in the dorm lobby in a jeans, a sweatshirt, and a down jacket for good measure, I met a room of grumpy freshmen and no earthquake. Outside, we formed several lines and were instructed to grab onto the shoulders of the student in front of us and close our eyes. We did so and as we walked, clutching onto the preceding person as if our life depended on it, we called out our fears and insecurities that were followed by choruses of “I AGREE!”¬†Student after student joined in the confession pool, with shouts of “I’m afraid of mediocrity,” “I’m afraid that there won’t be enough time,” and “I’m afraid of my own expectations” bouncing around from all sides.

It was a time when the best of the best, the cream of the crop, the academic elite of our generation let down their guards and voiced the thoughts and feelings too scary to confront alone. And as confessions piled up and fogged the air with its thickness, I felt my tear ducts loosening, singular tears leaving a fresh, cold trail down the side of my cheek.

By the time we stopped, opened our eyes, and found ourselves in the main quadrangle of the university, half an hour had passed, and the sky had gone from night to the soft glow of dawn. We separated into groups by residence floors and sat in a circle to discuss the fears we refrained from voicing, our hopes and dreams, and the goals we hope to reach this year.

I was surprised by the degree of honesty and truth that my dormmates were willing to put on the table, out in the open, raw and unprotected. And as people spoke out about their fears, I realized that what I feared most was what I loved most.

I’m afraid that I won’t be good enough, that I won’t be able to live up to the standards of this great university. I’m afraid that my love for math will be confronted by the potential reality that I simply do not have the brainpower to pursue my dreams. And I’m afraid that I will discover that passion isn’t enough to succeed.

I want to do math here. I want to go to grad school and get a doctorate and become a professor. I know what I want to do. I know which path I want to take. But now the question is, can I really do it? Do I have the potential, the intelligence, and the creativity required to pursue the glorious field of mathematics?

Despite my fears, I look forward to tomorrow and the lectures (and inevitable problem sets and essay assignments) that will come with it. I’m excited for the experiences, the challenges, and the people. And as orientation dwindles down to its final hours, I think can safely say that I will have a wonderful four years here, full of the laughter and happiness and friendships that any college student should have.


~ by thechanster on 10:06 am, Sunday, September 21, 2008.

One Response to “Confessions and Blind Walks”

  1. I really identify with what you wrote about your fears concerning, in your case, math. I, too, fear I may discover I simply do not have the stamina I need to pursue my own dreams, that my passion isn’t strong enough to succeed in the highly competitive field I have chosen. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if my passion- the unexplained fire that it is- were to vanish; what would happen then? But these are the paths we find and tread. Don’t let yourself be swayed by your fears, as I have faith you can and will succeed with what you need to do.

    Have fun, and good luck.

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