It was late freshman year when I realized I wouldn’t be able to pass, nor did I want to.
On the verge of a crisis, I remember sending a series of panicked texts to my guy friend, asking how I could dress and act more masculine. He responded in confusion and afterward listed the kinds of clothes he wore. However I only felt increasingly alienated, as I’d tried his fashion style before — I had already tried the men’s button-down shirts but could never really “pass.”
My impression of “college” was a place that determined who you would be, perhaps permanently. This idea haunted me, because I had repeatedly been told that I needed to obtain a certain level of college education in order to start my life right. If not, well, maybe that was it for me.
College was neither a guarantee nor an expectation. It was my only resort. College was a word passed around my community like a looming icon of the mythical “American Dream” — a dream of social mobility, wealth and generational prosperity. My parents fled from their homes, as their families were torn apart along ideological lines, to a foreign land with the hope for a better future: a future of prosperity for their children.
Dear freshman self,
You made it. As cliche as that may sound, I know that wasn’t something you could have easily imagined, especially after your first semester. You are graduating today and are about to begin a new, exciting chapter of your life. These past four years have flown by faster than you could have imagined, and it has definitely been a learning experience. I’m going to do my best to share what I wish I had known when I was in your place.
Growing up, I got the impression that people expected me to eventually choose between studying the humanities and science. However, I’ve always felt an equally strong affinity for both. Even in my undergraduate days, which are coming to a close now, I decided to major in both Writing Seminars and Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB), because I couldn’t imagine not having either discipline as a part of my life.