I hated the shape of my nose. Why do I have weirdly shaped jaws? I felt left out since I can’t drink. And what the f*** is love?
When I moved into my freshman dorm, I felt like I brought in more than just bedsheets and clothes. Yes, I brought in happy memories of my childhood and that mix of excitement and fear for college, but I also brought a suitcase full of issues that needed to be unpacked.
Coming into Stanford, I wanted to turn away from everything; I couldn’t even begin to think of liking my body, coming to terms with my medical circumstances, and most painful of all, accepting the way I love.
Here’s the thing, young freshman – everyone at Stanford will seem perfect. Everyone is an international champion or CEO or author, everyone is beyond intelligent, and everyone is so, so, so hot (everyone is at the height of their youthful attractiveness, it’s literally the worst).
And at first, that really scared me. No one else had these suitcases, these godforsaken suitcases, these horrible, terrible, invisible suitcases that can never be emptied. Right?
Wrong. At one time or another during freshman year, hopefully you’ll do something called a spotlight – you’ll have some time to talk about anything you want without interruption, from your family history to your childhood to the challenges you’ve faced over the years. And afterward, your audience has the chance to ask you questions.
That description above seems trivial – no written description can do justice to the experience. And that is just one example of what sets Stanford apart: vulnerability. People are willing to show you all those horrible, terrible, invisible suitcases they brought to Stanford.
It may be a spotlight. It may be a conversation with your RA at 2 in the morning. It may be in the dining hall or in your room or on Meyer Green or Dink or MemChu or who knows where. By knowing how other people overcame their struggles, you’ll learn how to overcome yours. By seeing other people’s life stories, you’ll gain perspective on your own.
It doesn’t all happen in one day. It is a few sentences here, a few hugs there. A spotlight on top, some tears below. That crazy concoction somehow worked; people saw me not as the 4.0 GPA got-into-Stanford Amit, but as the crying, yelling, farting, caring, human Amit.
My suitcase is not yet fully unpacked. I still have some ways to go. I’ll soon realize that my nose is a piece of art, like a chocolate water slide. I’ll see my jaws as pretty cool – I can eat noodles without opening them. I’ll understand that alcohol is not everything at Stanford. And eventually, I will be happy to love whomever I want.
And that includes me.
Class of 2019