Adolescence and early adulthood are times of getting to know ourselves, which involves coming to terms with our strengths and—whether we like to acknowledge them or not—our weaknesses. This period in our lives, characterized by teen angst and anxiety, culminates in the ever-confusing and overwhelming experience of: college.
The period of growth we undeniably experience in college can make or break people. It is during this time when we become more aware of ourselves than ever before—especially in comparison to our classmates who seem to have their lives all put together—that we come to a crossroads. Will we strive to alter our unpreventable faults, wholeheartedly deny them, or work just as hard to accept them?
Growing up, I always felt like I fit in. Sure, I had my own distinct personality, but between my small town, close-knit family, and high school of about 140 girls, I was always more similar to those around me than I was different. Because of the similarities that surrounded me, I was not really familiar with anything, good or bad, that set me apart from people until I got to college.
Thrown into a completely new environment, full of people from all over the world with completely unique backgrounds and personalities, I suddenly became aware of just how different I was. While some of these differences brought a smile to my face, others brought a wave of unease. I quickly learned that some people at BC are going to be better than I am at certain things, some are less skilled than me in particular areas, and others simply have completely different talents that I never even knew one could possess. Upon arriving to college, my strengths and my deficiencies became magnified in relation to my friends and classmates.
I let my cynicism get the best of me at first, and I allowed my faults to overshadow my good qualities. Instead of caving and allowing the sometimes overwhelming self-doubt and low self-esteem to control me, I recognized that I had the power to make a choice. I could either come to terms with my natural flaws and look at them as unique parts of myself (as opposed to inadequacies), or I could work to change what I didn’t like about myself.
I chose to embrace my shortcomings, accepting them for exactly what they were. Because some of my “faults” weren’t faults at all, but rather traits that made me unique, and helped me stand out. I knew that I could always work on procrastination (a major source of stress) and a subpar quiz grade in biology, but I also acknowledged the fact that science has never been and never will be my forte. Instead of dwelling, I focused on my other academic strengths.
My experience is not uncommon, especially for college students of each class. Constant comparison to those around you who seem to be great at everything and don’t stress about their lives can be emotionally and mentally draining. But the truth is that everyone has their own faults that we often don’t know about. Some people are naturally talented. Whether they are a star athlete, math prodigy, or master at giving advice, they are not perfect. One strength doesn’t indicate perfection.
We each have our own unique skills, but we often wallow too much in our shortcomings to recognize it.
It took me a while to realize, but other people’s strong suits don’t indicate your inadequacies. We are each completely unique individuals with our own gifts and talents to offer others, and while we should always work to be kinder, better people, it is also important to accept the things we cannot change that make us who we are.