Does it sometimes bother me that I’m not “cool”? Of course it does. There are days when I would give anything to be the type of person who fits in at Ivy Club or would rush Kappa Alpha Theta. But thinking with my grown-up brain, I’m pretty happy with myself.
There’s nothing selfish about taking care of yourself — which, in the case of introverts, includes being by yourself. I rarely see people after 11 p.m. or so because I’ll be doing both them and myself a disservice if I do.
It’s also not that I’m not independent or strong: I can guarantee you that I am. I’ve traveled the world alone, proven myself academically, and built incredible relationships. But societal norms of male-female interaction have been drilled into my brain for so long that sometimes they inhibit my independence and strength. So many successful, incredible women are the same. It’s not that we’re inherently afraid of something: it’s that we’ve, in a way, been raised to make ourselves small so that men can be big. We’ve been taught to self-sacrifice, to give ourselves up for the benefit of others.
Every year, when Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, rolls around, I find myself staring at a list of people I’ve offended. It takes me hours to put it together; I go through my phone contacts, Facebook, and even class rosters to mark everyone I’ve annoyed, hurt, or disappointed. The process has become automatic at this point, but it’s nonetheless unpleasant. I don’t enjoy being reminded of all the times I’ve screwed up.
I’ve only recently come to realize that there really isn’t anything wrong with me just because I don’t enjoy going out. It’s just not who I am. And after two years, I’m okay with that — you should be, too.
But more than anything, my professor’s ability to find beauty on that seemingly forsaken day left me speechless. I was prepared to let the afternoon go to waste, just as I was ready to declare my day earlier this week a total failure. But my beloved professor wasn’t. Instead of seeing the obvious ugliness that sometimes surrounds us, she chose, instead, to see something beautiful. She saw blossoms in the midst of a snowstorm.
Making greetings a part of Princeton’s personality would encourage interaction between individuals who don’t normally feel as if they have anything to say to one another simply because they’ve never tried.
I can only imagine how many meaningful relationships I’ve missed out on because of my fixation on shoes, instead of the story behind them.
Few will announce their depression to an audience because of the shame associated with any kind of special treatment. That doesn’t mean, however, that such individuals don’t seek empathy and compassion.
When I look at myself on a good day, I don’t search for faults. I see an attractive, funny, smart young woman who enjoys life. But when I look at whatever goes wrong in my life, I see only faults. I see an ugly, stupid failure who ruins everything she touches — even when that’s just not true.