“How do you find Stanford?”
I feel like I’m being asked this a lot lately – most recent was this week – and honestly, sometimes I think I’m totally the wrong person to receive this question. I swear, I always give the longest, most awkward pregnant pause ever before coming up with a lame answer. Some days I feel like I am the sorriest excuse of a student to have ended up here, this place that still feels, even now, two sizes too big for me.
Every once in a while I come across LinkedIn accounts and/or news articles about Stanford students – mostly high-flying undergrads well on their way to crackling futures – that makes me feel like… yes, the sorriest excuse of a student here. This place has this amazing ability to deflate my ego in 0.001 seconds, basically. These students have all these accomplishments nationally and internationally with big-name companies, serving in all these boards and organizations while maintaining shiny 4.0s (it’s on their LinkedIn…) on top of all these community services what-have-yous.
I’m on the slowest track possible with the masters program; I’m not involved in any sort of extracurriculars or leadership engagements here; I don’t have any of that domestic/international long list of causes and internships; I don’t have a shiny 4.0 as the cherry on top of my cake, nor do I bother about that anymore. I’m just here, learning at my own pace. Basically, I’m just… here.
I think Stanford is a great place, but maybe it’s just not for me, to be completely honest. After my emotionally disastrous first year, I started second year with the understanding that this is a do-over. A second chance. I often remind myself of Eldest Bro’s advise about grad school, “you’re there to learn – not to die trying!” So these days I’m totally okay with being at my own pace, even if okay, time and again I still struggle with feeling like the sorriest excuse of a student here. I’m enjoying the learning experience here, but to be completely honest, for the near-two years I’ve been here – happiness is such a conscious state of being to reach and hold on to; I feel its absence so palpably more than anything else. I’m just… here.
But just today, 1sunnylady popped in my other blog and left this meaningful comment:
I feel like you don’t give yourself enough credit for what you’ve accomplished so far. I know about belittling yourself b/c not being satisfied is what pushes you to go higher… at some extent. Of course there will always be people who will do more things than you and who will be better than you, but that doesn’t take away every effort you made to get where you are and that doesn’t make you less happy than they are. I don’t “know” you and you know all of this, but I wish I had someone to say these words to me out loud as a reminder, so I hope you don’t mind me saying them to you today :D
Okay, I don’t know where I’m going with this entry.
I guess I just want to be honest about where I stand in this so-called ivory tower that maybe I’m not the right person to engage with on questions about elitism and top percentile or whatever else that people often associate places like Stanford with. Which is funny, because before I got here, I am embarrassed to admit that since forever, I’ve always been dying to be part of the community. I wanted it so bad that I cried so hard and so much when I almost didn’t get to take up the offer.
Then I got here and … well, here we are now. Three months to leaving and I still struggle in the in-between of feeling grateful and elated. Relieved mostly, though I can’t even tell you if it’s the good or bad kind. I’ve just come to the conclusion that I think I need get out of this place and put some spatial and temporal distance between us, in order for me to fully appreciate the experience of having been a part of it because right now, from the inside, half the time I just feel like an outsider looking in.
Oh, I also just wanted to say thank you — 1sunnylady’s comment isn’t the first time I’ve received/heard something like this, so I just want to take a moment to express that I am really thankful for the encouragements that my blogger-friends and readers continue to pour my way. To be honest, I think this space gives the illusion that I am more than what/who I am in real life, hence the sweet commentaries like “you’re the only one who thinks you’re less than what you are!” but… I’ll take in kind words anytime. I’ve always been extremely critical of myself and my so-called successes — I’ll keep working on this.
Anyway, it’s been a long …studying… Sunday but really, I just want to say terima kasih for the occasional stream of kind words and thoughts (humble bow). As always, I’m sorry I don’t reply to everything but I do read everything :)