I Am Not My Education

A little over a month ago, I had the amazing opportunity to work with Steve Rosenfield and his What I Be project. The concept of the project was defining your greatest insecurities, and admitting to yourself and to others that it does not define you. While I had been initially hesitant to share my deepest insecurities with Facebook, doing so has resulted in many reaching out to me, mirroring my sentiments, and the relatioships I have built as a result has been worth all of the fear and anxiety I experienced in sharing it. As a result of this,  I would now like to share it with Duke's Her Campus readers. I hope that if any of you have felt the same way that I did and do every day, this will help you to realize that you are not alone.  

Coming to Duke was a big step for me. My entire life I was always told I was smart, and I would go to college and be successful someday. I believed every word until I received two college acceptance letters, one being from my safety school. Two. Out of ten. That’s when I really started to wonder if I had been lying to myself this entire time, overshooting what I was capable of. Moreover, that’s when I really started to wonder why on earth Duke would accept me when almost every other school rejected me. It had to have been a mistake—a complete fluke. If I’m not smart enough for Vandy, Wake… There’s no way I’m smart enough for Duke.

Somehow I still ended up here though, and since day one I’ve been attempting to overcompensate for all that I’m missing. Study triple the amount of time. Go to every office hour. Get tutors. Work, write, join clubs, be involved so even if I don’t have my academics, at least I have something. Something of value that can explain why I’m good enough to be here. Something that can earn me my spot.

I got accepted to Duke two years ago, but I still feel like I’m trying to get in every day. Looking around at all the effortless perfection Duke students have to offer, my mind is overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy. So I have to try harder; I have to know what they know, get what they have, be who they are. 

I’d love to end this with some inspirational story of how I no longer feel this way, but that would be perpetuating what I’m most insecure about. I still feel like I’m far too dumb to be here. I still feel like I’m drowning in my classes. I still worry that someday everyone will realize that I was never supposed to have gotten in, and kick me out. It’s a work in progress, I guess you could say.