When I was accepted to Vassar, I was sure it was a mistake. In my mind, Vassar was more than a reach for me. I was just your average, schlubby kid from Massachusetts who sent out his application as a last minute Hail Mary after doing medium-well on his SAT’s and ACT’s. Nothing about my transcript screamed Vassar. If anything, it probably screamed, “Take a year off! You need it!” due to my serious case of senior slump. As the hour after my acceptance passed, I refreshed the page over and over again, utterly convinced that it was all a fluke. Therefore, it came as no surprise when I later received an email from Vassar saying that they had accidentally sent acceptance letters to some rejected ED2 applicants. For me, that was it. There was no way in hell that I wasn’t one of the unlucky few that would be selling their Vassar sweatshirts on eBay. After all, my YourSpace application was a ten-line poem I had written about a sponge during a Nor’easter blackout that spring. Nevertheless, when I checked my application page my acceptance stood strong, and I left for Vassar that fall.
The first few months at Vassar were spent in a whirlwind of panic. From the very beginning, I had convinced myself that Vassar was never a logical reality for me. I couldn’t play any instruments, I wasn’t fluent in any languages, and I had only been out of the country once to go to Montreal for three days. If I somehow made it through orientation without being thrown off of Jewett tower I knew that the first day of class would be the death of me, because if there was one thing I had convinced myself, it was that there was no way in hell I was smart enough for Vassar. I sucked at reading, I didn’t know shit about politics, and I only learned what “indifferent” meant during my senior year of high school. In short, I was fucked. Once the first day of classes rolled around, I made the optimistic guesstimation that I would last two, maybe three weeks before being run out of New York with my tail tucked tightly between my legs.
As my time at Vassar went on, the same feelings of unworthiness held on nice and tight to my every action. I would watch as my classmates would stay up late reading fifty-page articles for class, all the while struggling to convince myself that I had the ability to read and remember a ten-pager. I would purposefully shrink into the background of my comedy shows so as not to embarrass my group with my lack of comedic ability. When a group of friends would invite me to go out, I’d lie about having plans so as to avoid another night of draining social encounters. Slowly but surely, I began to undervalue every aspect of myself that Vassar consistently tried to assure me was valuable. However, things finally began to turn around during my junior year when someone helped me realize that in order to love my time here, I had to get out of my own way.
In many cases, it can be hard to admit that you’re the cause of your own problems, but it can often be even harder to realize that those problems can be fixed. For me, my greatest challenge at Vassar was working up the confidence to believe that I was here for a reason. This quickly proved to be a challenge for the ages, as everywhere I looked I saw people who seemed to thrive at everything they did, whether it was singing, writing, comedy, or even drinking. During my time here, I have met some of who I’m sure are the smartest, funniest, and most creative people on Earth, and in a place that is filled to the capacity with stars, it can be super easy to feel outshined.
My biggest take away from Vassar is the importance of loving yourself. This is by no means an easy task, but it is what I believe to be the most essential tool for getting your money’s worth at college. In order to connect with people, you must trust that the connections you make will be real. In order to learn, you must believe that you already have the ability to learn. In order to grow, you must know that you will, whether you want to or not. Four years later, I still have moments of believing that I didn’t belong here at Vassar, however, the people I’ve been lucky to surround myself with have worked tirelessly every day to help me realize that this was where I was meant to be, and for that I can’t thank them enough.