Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 3, 2021
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COURTESY OF SUDHA YADAV

Yadav learned to accept herself and stopped changing her personality for others.

It’s a friends’ night, my mind is racing with all kinds of thoughts, my heartbeat is fast and I am trying to calm myself down after reading my current favorite book, A Century is Not Enough: My Roller-coaster Ride to Success. I am thinking about what completely transformed me from the most extroverted kid to a socially awkward girl who overthinks whenever meeting a new person. 

I remember when I was in high school, I was the kid who always used to get kicked out of the class for talking too much and pulling pranks with her classmates. My friends around me had aims, clear goals for their lives, and I hadn’t even started studying for the exam I had the next day. I was a totally chill and carefree person.

Then I entered senior secondary school, where I first got a sense of competition. I saw everyone around me competing against each other to get the best awards at the yearly award ceremony or to hear appreciation from the director of our school while, on the other hand, I was waiting for my classes to get canceled so that I could go to the sports ground and play some games.

I struggled to make any friends in my new school. I believed the best way to change that would be becoming the most popular name and always being at the top of the school. My 13-year-old self thought that the only way to accomplish those aims was to pull all-nighters, ignore my health, not hang out with my friends anymore and the like. Of course, it was not the best way, I now realize. And despite doing all that, I was never the student who got the best grades in the class. It’s so funny to think that one time my teacher even told me that I couldn’t become anything in my life.

But I slowly became the first name in the class called, whether it was to play cricket or to participate in a science competition. That’s when introversion started getting to me. I became fully focused on myself, and maybe a bit selfish, too. I lost most of my friends at that point. It wasn't the easiest of times because people around me continually asked if there was something wrong with me.

I stopped being the life of a party or putting in extra effort to talk with everyone in the room like I used to. I was — and still am — content to sit in a corner, watch everyone else and reminisce, knowing that I don’t need to be that person anymore to feel a sense of worth.

I am not an introvert who is always happy by themselves in their own company. I want a group of people around me most of the time. When I am done working, I want to go back to my favorite person and spend time with them. I stopped overthinking about why I’m like this. I just like to do what my heart wants at the moment.

Even right now, I may not have a clue about my future, but at least I believe I am the best version of myself so far. I value my personal growth. I have realized it’s nothing to be ashamed of. My soul and spirit evolve thanks to my unique set of life experiences.

Sometimes, as a newly self-proclaimed introvert, I have to wonder if I have been confusing that personality trait with anxiety. I know it’s not that simple, but any transformation starts with self-acceptance, and therein lies the key to happiness. I am on the way to that.

So, as I sit here with my group of friends as people talk, sing and dance around me, I feel happy to be me and proud to be who I am after years of uncertainty about myself.

Sudha Yadav is a graduate student from North India in the Department of Chemistry. Her column, Crystal From the Valleys, talks about the roller-coaster ride of grad life, seeing beauty in chemistry and getting inspiration from nature.

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