The student who isn’t afraid to ask a question in class. The president of UTSU who makes announcements about upcoming events to a room full of strangers. The first-year in Sidney Smith who pairs converse with dresses but has more friends than I can count. What’s the one thing they all have in common? Confidence. Complete faith in themselves, in their actions, and in their abilities.
A few years ago, that kind of self-confidence and self-assurance seemed unattainable to me. For most of my life, I was an extremely shy, quiet, and reserved person. To a certain degree, I still am. There’s nothing wrong with that necessarily, but I didn’t realize my lack of self-confidence would have such a powerful affect on my life. I’d never thought much of it until I entered my first year of university. I can still remember being a Frosh, surrounded by loud upper-year students with painted faces and bright shirts. We were expected to scream and dance and befriend strangers. It seemed… strange (for lack of a better word) and somewhat forced. I feared that the rest of UofT would be as loud as Frosh Week was and I worried that I’d chosen a school that completely clashed with my personality.
Classes started and everyone seemed to make friends instantly. Everyone except for me. I didn’t have the confidence to turn to the student on my left or right and say “Hi. My name’s Ishita. What’s yours?” September turned to October and October to November. Before I knew it, midterms rolled around and I was terrified to write them. What if I hadn’t studied enough? What if I failed? I was a strong student in high school but my marks reflected my state of mind.
Towards the end of my first year, I logged onto Facebook one day and read one of my friend’s statuses. She wrote:
“If I could go back and do it all over again, I would do it the exact same way but I would do it with a lot more confidence.”
I read that statement over and over again and I realized that I agreed. If I could turn back time and redo my first year, I would still make many of the decisions that I had. I’d choose the same university and the same program. I’d even attend the same courses. But I’d approach my school work and social life with confidence. Positivity. I’d take risks instead of staying in my comfort zone. I’d admit my mistakes and learn from them instead of covering them up and hoping that I could fix the problem before anyone noticed. I’d govern my behaviour based on what I felt, not what others did.
I’m in my third year now. And over the past year and a half, I’ve definitely done some of the things that I set out to do. I’ve taken more risks. The very fact that I’m writing on this blog, exposing myself and my thoughts to thousands of students (and surfers), without much fear of judgement is proof of that. I’ve learned to say “I’m wrong” and “I’m sorry” and “I need help.” And I’ve started to say what I feel, eat what I like, dress how I like. Be who I want to be. And my life has improved significantly.
Sometimes, I think to myself, if I could erase my first year, would I? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a perfect record? A record that truly reflects me? But then I think, my mistakes have made me who I am today and I can live with that.
Don’t be afraid to find confidence in your mistakes too.
Have a lovely week, UofT.