Take Up Space — My Mantra for the Fall Semester

Before Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez’s primary debate against incumbent Joe Crowley, she sat on her couch in her humble apartment in the Bronx, saying to herself, “I can do this. I am experienced enough to do this. I am knowledgeable enough to do this. I am prepared enough to do this. I am mature enough to do this. I am brave enough to do this.”

While watching Netflix’s Knock Down the House documentary, which features the campaigns of four female Democrats, this is the moment that struck me the most. I hadn’t expected to see the confident, self-assured Congresswoman needing to remind herself of the same things that I struggle to remember sometimes.

After crying through the ending of the documentary, I walked away with one phrase stuck in my head: “I need to take up space.” Such a simple concept, such a simple phrase, and yet it was something that I needed to hear more than anything over the summer.

I am a textbook case of not wanting to take up space… the number of unnecessary apologies I make in a day is astronomical. I also know that, although I hate admitting it, I’m definitely prone to underestimating myself. Because of this, I decided before coming to school this semester that it was time to make a change.

My goal this semester is to take up space. I want to have confidence in myself, whether it’s confidence in my abilities, my knowledge, my actions, or anything else. I just want to be proud of the life I’m living while I’m in college. I want to leave BU after four years knowing that I did what I wanted to do and then some. 

I was tired of letting my lack of self-confidence get in the way of reaching for all the things I wanted to do, just because I was too afraid of failing. I wanted to be running for E-Boards, reaching out to acquaintances who I wanted to be good friends with, and joining student organizations that seemed amazing but intimidating.

I wish I had a more interesting story of how I accomplished all of that, but once I realized that these were all things that would make me happy I just… did them. It really astounds me how much the “fake it ‘til you make it” mentality can get you through life. 

At this point, I can’t tell how much of whatever I’m doing is faking it versus making it, but I can tell that I am the happiest that I’ve ever been at school. As I continue on through the semester, the school year, and the rest of my time at BU, I want to continue doing my best to take up space. 

I have met some incredible people and done some incredible things so far this semester just because I stopped letting myself be afraid. And now? I can’t wait to see what’s next. Even if life throws some curveballs at me (as I’m sure it will), I feel better prepared to take on whatever comes my way because I have faith that I can handle it.

So, as it turns out, deciding to watch Knock Down the House on a random day in August ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. 

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