When it comes to public speaking, I’ve always been afraid. My stomach does somersaults and my hands dry up. Recently, however, I realized that these feelings have diminished. No somersaults, no dryness, just me and my voice. And it’s all thanks to my time at Binghamton University.
In July 2011, I stepped off a bus in front of Hinman College’s Smith Hall to take part in the Binghamton Enrichment Program, a summer program for students in the Educational Opportunity Program. A week before, I had graduated from a small high school in the Bronx where the top 5 percent of my class excelled at public speaking and confidence: two things I lacked.
That summer, I was ready to start anew. I joined Pipe Dream’s Release section and the Hellenic Cultural Society and immersed myself in BU. As a wide-eyed freshman, I had an idea of what I’d be like by the time I was a senior: smarter, confident and put together. Obstacles would be obsolete. But that was just a pipe dream (yes, you saw what I did there).
The path to being who I am today, a senior with only two weeks left in college, turned out to be as bumpy as Riverside Drive. I made the right choice to join the organizations I did, and I made friends, but my fear of speaking kept holding me back. I had so much to say, but a voice in the back of my head always told me that I wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t until I joined the Alpha Delta Phi Society that I started to silence that doubtful voice.
After ending my tenure as president this past week, I can give you the whole spiel about who we are and what we stand for, but I have a word count to adhere to. There’s something about ADPS that pushes and challenges you in the right direction that I never experienced before coming to BU. Within the last two years, I’ve become more comfortable with myself and feel more in my element because I tried things I never would have before and stopped listening to that doubtful voice inside my head.
This isn’t to say that joining a co-ed fraternity solves all of your problems and absolves you from any future issues. Sometimes I still struggle with being afraid to speak up, and that’s OK. Somewhere between last year and this year, I realized that there was no use in being afraid and feeling sorry for my shortcomings. There is no time frame for when you’re supposed to “have it together,” so why not work with what you have one day at a time?
There’s one lesson to take away from my four years at BU. Embrace the old cliché that you should push your own boundaries and step out of your comfort zone. When I look back at all of the people I’ve met over the years, those who never pushed boundaries are still in the same place they were four years ago. Those who did have made leaps and bounds in terms of what they’ve achieved.
On May 17, I won’t leave BU with the confidence and aura of “having it together” as I thought I would four years ago. Instead, I’m leaving that part of myself open for future experiences. To quote the incomparable Buffy Summers from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “I’m cookie dough. I’m not done baking. I’m not finished becoming whoever the hell it is I’m gonna turn out to be.”
I can’t even begin to list all of the people who have made my college experience worthwhile, so thank you to everyone who has ever supported me in some shape or form. I wouldn’t be here without any of you.