Life is measured in a series of milestones. When one is completed, we are always looking ahead, never taking a moment to stop and reflect on how we got there. At this stage in our lives, college is that milestone. The time where we finally get to dictate our own future and make decisions that can impact them. It is a place where we can assert our independence, find our voice, and take that next step towards finding our place in the world. That last aspect- finding one’s voice- has been my greatest challenge thus far. Although I haven’t had difficulty finding it, gaining the confidence to use it has troubled me, whether it be for a major or menial task. The prospect of asking someone something sends waves of anxiety coursing through my body, the sick anticipation eating away at my insides. I’ve always played it safe, relying on other people to cushion my fear. This isn’t always going to be the case. I need to learn how to assert myself.
To start off, let me introduce myself. My name is Sheridan Morgan, I am a freshman Childhood/Special Education major, and as I stated previously the sheer thought of speaking up makes me feel like I’m going to puke. That sickly emotion is exactly why that is the goal I chose to tackle in my early days at Geneseo. In order to do so, I devised a loose plan. The first step in that plan was finding the right people to surround myself with, which I have done. Making friends was the most nerve-wracking thought about college, as I am the type of person who needs to be coaxed out of their shell before revealing their true colors. I challenged myself to present that image from the start. This outlook paid off, as it led me to make the group of friends I have now. In the short time we’ve known each other, we’ve become practically inseparable. They’ve encouraged me to push myself, understanding that while the idea of speaking up scares me (if it’s for something that matters) the result will be worth it. Recently, I have been faced with certain instances where I’ve needed to push through my doubts and speak up. The first instance was asking to join an intramural soccer team. Soccer has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As I got older, I used it to stay fit as opposed to working out at a gym, and I became more intent on honing my skills to become a better player. I wasn’t quite ready to give it up, so when the opportunity arose, I joined. To be fair, it wasn’t all me- I had a friend by my side, hyping me up the whole time. While her presence was much appreciated, I still hadn’t conquered the task of speaking up on my own.
One of the things that drew me to Geneseo was the level of communication between the school and the student. As someone who is afraid to reach out to others first, it was refreshing to see that there were people putting in the effort to facilitate a connection. However, in the back of my mind I knew that the work wasn’t always going to be done for me. Just the other day, I reached out to my academic advisor for the first time. Most people would think nothing of that, but most people don’t have the tendency to overcomplicate things. Ask me to write an email- sure, I can do that easily. Ask me to send the email- it might end up in my drafts until I work up the nerve to hit that tiny, blue button. I try to forget I even sent the email, otherwise, I tend to worry, “Will this person think my questions or concerns are weird?” When the response from my advisor was positive and ripe with anticipation to meet with me, some of that initial fear began to feel a bit foolish. While the social aspects of speaking up are daunting, when I am in class, I don’t have that issue. I have always been that nerdy kid who loved to learn and share their opinions, so talking in class is not a problem. Besides, it is easier to put yourself out there when the subject matter is something you know like the back of your hand. In most of my classes I strive to participate, contributing to conversations to benefit both myself and the entire class discussions.
Other than being a milestone, something that is repeatedly said about college is that it is a place to reinvent and discover yourself. I disagree. I am happy with who I am, and have already put in the effort to being comfortable with that person. I am more so of the thought that college is a place for you to reflect on the pieces of who you are, and whether you shall embark on a journey of self-improvement. Using my voice with confidence is the beginning of mine, and the first of many. This goal may not be reached today, and it may not be reached tomorrow, but I hope to get to the point where my fears are nonexistent, so that I am ready to formally introduce my true self to the world.