Coming to Tufts, I had a lot of expectations on my mind. I was going to try out new foods, explore new classes, meet new people and hopefully make new friends. I had a Google document listing everything I was going to be doing, and every day I smiled while reading this list to myself.
Under this smile, there lay a subtle fear of the unknown. I was afraid that I would not fit in, that I would not be good enough, that I would choose the wrong major, that I would take the worst classes, that I would not like the food at Tufts (food is a very big deal for me). Somehow this fear had found a chasm in my smile, where it hid, unbeknownst to anyone including myself.
A year later and I still find myself feeling some fear. I am afraid that I am walking down wrong paths, that I am taking things too fast or sometimes too slow, that I am surrounding myself too much with comfort some days and that I am surrounded by the unfamiliar on others. Still this fear hides in my smile. It is a kind of fear that hits from both sides. I am afraid to win just as much as I am afraid to lose. I feel it right before I press submit on that application, and right after I raise my arm to answer a question in class. It hits me when I speak to my friends. Being surrounded by such brilliant people at Tufts, it’s hard not to feel intimidated. Every second I spend at the computer labs in Halligan thinking over solutions to my project, or every minute I spending typing my film paper in the library, I am constantly afraid that I am not good enough.
This fear is silly, just as much as it is selfish. It is the fear that I am constantly evolving every day. It is the desperate part of me that does not believe that I could have done all that I have done to be in the place that I am. It is the fear that I have the potential within me to be something or someone better. It is the fear that I might surprise myself some day and accomplish things I could not have imagined I was capable of.
Over this past year, I have learned new ways to fight this fear. When I think my articles aren’t good enough, I send them to my brother and he reads them back to me as though they were taken from the Daily Nation. When I think that I am not strong enough to pull through any day, I change into my running clothes, and I run and I run and I run and I run. I run until the only thing that’s on my mind is the thought that I may not know my way back home. When I feel like I am afraid of living in a new country, I call my friend Lexi who joins me in a random escapade into the city. When I’m afraid that I might fail an assignment I make myself a nice Kenyan meal and eat it over a review of the coursework to think about how I can do better. When I think that I cannot possibly get by anymore, I think about my past; about every decision deliberated, every action taken, every mistake made, that led me to where I am standing in this instant. I think about what stroke of fate or luck it took for me to be here (depending on my state of beliefs), and appreciate the fact that everything has worked out so far.
Sophomore year is here now, and it might bring with it more uncertainty. But I know that most times, I’ll know how to handle it.