And I am reflecting on the ways my life has changed…so much…since the beginning of the fall.
When I was rejected as a music major and came in as a psych major, I was…miserable. Everything I’d ever wanted had been pulled away from me, and I was left to pick up the pieces. I retreated into myself and clammed up. I lost my voice. I lost everything.
After two semesters of being miserable, I changed my major. again. To English this time. From the first moment I set foot in the English department office, I felt the atmosphere shift. I think unconsciously I knew that it was the right fit for me, but on the surface, I was convinced that it would just be another mistake—another failure.
Boy, was I wrong.
At the beginning of the semester, I situated myself in the front corner of every classroom. I stayed quiet, took notes, observed but did not contribute. I think I was part of the reason I was so miserable at Fredonia—I was standing in my own way from day one. But my professors could see it. Unlike other professors I had in Psych (who I liked, but did not connect with) the English professors I really engaged with. They genuinely cared about my well-being, and made a point of having discussions with me, calling me to their office hours, sending me e-mails, taking the time to try and pull me out of my shell. I was honestly surprised at the amount of attention they paid to me, in and out of the classroom. Of course their comments and suggestions on my papers were constructive and helped to strengthen my writing, but it was the genuine concern behind their comments and questions that really hit home. I was in the right place because these people give a damn about me and my education. They want me to do well and succeed. They want me to be happy while I do well and succeed.
I have never felt more welcome in a department—not since JCC and my music family. Even professors I don’t know personally will smile at me when we pass each other in the hallway. I’m finally coming out of my shell. I feel more like myself everyday. I applied for the London study abroad this summer. I smile a lot more often. I am not going to sit here and pretend that I’m not still depressed and anxious. I am. about 85% of the time. But it’s a lot less than it was before. Now when I start to feel that way, I know I have an entire department of people I can talk to, who genuinely care and want to help.
This is an open letter to the professors I’ve had this semester. To Dr. Liggins, who opened my mind to the things about the Harlem Renaissance I didn’t know, who praised my papers and let me explore things I never would have considered. To Dr. Simon, who was never without a goofy smile and a silly joke, who got excited about my research ideas, and let me indulge in my television fangirl-y obsession to turn it into a grade. To Dr. Kaplin, who was always willing to read my rough drafts, help me think through problems, gave me suggestion after suggestion to strengthen my papers, and practically bent over backward to help me in any way I needed this semester. And to Dr. McVicker, my adviser, who did more than teach me about critical reading and expanding my mind to different ideas about literature. You called attention to the things I was trying to ignore, listened to me pour out my every anxiety, cry about all the things I screwed up, and did everything in your power to help me turn it all around. The four of you came into my life at exactly the right time, and I can’t thank you enough for all your guidance this semester.
For the first time, I can honestly say without any doubt that being rejected from the SoM is the best thing to ever happen to me. Without that “dream deferred,” I wouldn’t have found a place I fit. As much as I love music, I know now that studying it seriously was never for me. Studying English, reading and writing, thinking critically, constantly changing and shaping my perspective about everything I see? That is what I am really supposed to be doing. I am so glad all of this happened to me, even if it still hurts sometimes.
Everything is going to be okay.
I am one day closer to finally believing that.
Now bring on Christmas, the snow, and my month-long perpetual nap. :)