As Boston College students, it can be tempting to hide our struggles in the constant quest to appear perfect. Embracing our truths can help us to understand ourselves and experience the world around us as genuinely as possible. Authentic Eagles is a series that gives a voice to the people who have experienced firsthand the trials and tribulations of being one’s authentic self at BC.
Annie Clabby, A&S ’14
“Who are you visiting at BC?” “What grade are you in?” “Wait, you’re a senior? There’s no way.”
These are just a few of the questions and comments that have become commonplace in my day-to-day life at Boston College over the course of the last two years. While these questions were always asked out of genuine curiosity, and certainly not intended to offend, the underlying sentiment I was always left with was that I didn’t really belong to the BC community, and that everyone could tell.
As a second-semester sophomore year transfer to Boston College, I was naively convinced that making friends would be easy and that, in no time, Boston College would feel like home. I brushed off the fact that I was transferring midway through the school year, and I fully embraced my chance at a fresh start closer to home. After leaving my previous university in the south and returning to New England, I assumed I would automatically be comfortable amongst my peers and in my new environment. What I hadn’t factored into my perfect plan of adjustment was the fact that many friend groups had already been solidified, I would be living on College Road and the majority of my new transfer friends would be on Lower Campus, and that the school work would be drastically more difficult than my last school. The blend of these forces resulted in social insecurity, overcompensating with alcohol, and slipping grades. The pressure I had placed upon myself to succeed right away had backfired. My first semester at Boston College culminated in me feeling embarrassed, defeated, and more insecure than ever.
Over the summer, I met a guy from London, got involved in a long distance relationship, and returned to Boston College with no intention of going out or putting myself out there again. For my first semester junior year, I became a Skype addict and used the security of my relationship to avoid meeting people and experiencing the rejection I had perceived during my sophomore year. To further my avoidance of Boston College, I also made the decision to go abroad for second semester. I had resolved to spend as little time at BC as humanly possible, but just enough to leave with a degree. What I didn’t realize was that I was wasting the best years of my life being afraid of rejection or making the simple mistakes that other people were making all the time, like drinking too much or saying the wrong thing.
When I returned senior year for, ironically, my first full year at BC, I was determined to blend in once again, do my schoolwork, and focus on my long distance relationship. However, as always happens with the best-laid plans (and long distance relationships), that didn’t quite work out. After an awkward Skype breakup that resulted in my plans crumbling around me, I came to the realization that I was throwing away my college years by avoiding the possible, not inevitable, pain of social rejection. I resolved to put myself out there academically and socially, try harder to make friends, and to embrace Boston College without fear. This was the best decision I ever could have made.
In the first week of my newfound determination to embrace BC, I volunteered for a research project in the department of my major, and I went to Homecoming with a group of girls I hadn’t spent more than an hour with in my entire life. That research project has evolved into a paid position that I’m still working on today, and those girls have become close friends of mine. This isn’t to say that I haven’t experienced any rejection or made any mistakes by putting myself out there, but the rewards have far outweighed the negatives.
It is never too late to join the Eagle community and to give yourself the opportunity to be pleasantly surprised by people. I have made so many more friends than I ever imagined possible by swallowing my fears, not allowing my insecurities to hold me back, and giving others, and myself, a chance. Whether it’s asking a professor if you can get involved in academic work, or going out with a group of people you don’t really know, the smallest bit of effort can result in lifelong knowledge and friendships. I’m happy to say that people do actually recognize me as a member of the senior class now and that the questions I dreaded hearing in the beginning of the year occur very rarely now. It is incredibly hard to be a transfer student, but if you close yourself off to the possibilities of meeting great people or getting involved in something you’re passionate about, you might miss out on a world of opportunity.