Around midnight, I hovered my mouse cursor over the new email from Berkeley. My house was silent but internally I heard a battle raging within myself over whether I should open it or wait another day. The second I had submitted my application, my hopes that I would actually get accepted plummeted. To me, the idea was too far-fetched. Sure, my grades were pretty good, but for Berkeley’s expectations, I wasn’t quite sure.
I wasn’t ready for my assumptions to become a reality. I also wanted to just rip the Band-Aid off quickly and get it over with.
Shock hit me with the click of my mouse when I opened the email. My eyes scanned the page trying to read the small text as digital confetti popped out of nowhere and wiggled down my screen.
I was accepted.
After celebrating with my family and continuously checking my emails, just in case I got a message saying that they made a mistake, I packed my toothbrush and prepared to move upstate.
Leading up to the move-in date, I pondered over one of my biggest worries: Was I going to fit in? Everyone tried to shoo away my worries with the promise of thousands of students that attend Berkeley and that I’d find my bubble. However, at that moment, I assumed everyone was a modern Einstein while I, on the other hand, could hardly remember how to solve a quadratic equation.
Perhaps they weren’t Einstein, but I met plenty of well-rounded students that had done a ton of extracurricular activities, had a GPA of over 3.8 and were top of their classes all prior to coming to Berkeley.
I began to wonder, where were the people that were like me?
I never considered myself to be top of my class. I didn’t have the best GPA, nor did I do extracurricular activities. I spent my two years of community college balancing work and classes. I was amazed that others were able to do so much but discouraged because I was unable to.
I carried this mindset with me for almost a year. In my classes I was afraid to share my opinion, because I thought that someone else would have a better one. My first spring semester at Berkeley further engraved this fear into my mind.
No matter how long my notes were, how many office hours I went to or all-nighters I pulled trying to perfect my essays, I couldn’t please my graduate student Instructor. After she gave me a decent letter grade on an essay and some discouraging comments that I will never forget, I went home and laid in bed for a few hours.
As I stared at the pictures of my loved ones hanging on the wall, I contemplated if I picked the right major and if I was really cut out for this. I was a 3rd year and couldn’t even write a “close reading” essay correctly. I later found out I wasn’t alone.
I encountered other students who felt the same way as I did. We would exchange conversations about how we felt and how we were doing in our classes. It really eased my mind to know that I wasn’t the only one doubting myself. This seemed to be a normal process that many students go through.
I formed a supportive group of friends. They reminded me that I was already here and that I was worthy of being here.
With this reassurance, I began focusing on myself and finding my own confidence. Sure, I might not be the best at Berkeley, but the university pushes me to do the best I can do. I’m still a work in progress, but as long as I keep reminding myself to be confident in my own abilities, I can surpass my own expectations.
I am a Berkeley student and I don’t doubt it anymore.