As trite as it may be to point out, New York is always changing — for the better, for the worse and often for the indistinguishable. I feel that my past four years have been the same. I came to NYU after completing a pre-college program at Harvard, where I had the most magical summer of my life with a crew of new friends who were always up for adventure. For most of my life, I never had to put any effort into making friends and being liked. I came to NYU with delusion and fairy dust from that previous summer and my small-ish town high school experience. NYU was a completely different beast. Never had I thought that I would spend my first week eating alone in the cafeteria, crying in my room and pondering if I had made the wrong decision. I was perplexed at how everyone seemed to know people already and was horrified at how judged I felt walking through the Hayden Dining Hall, which felt like a combination of a fashion runway and a high school cafeteria from a teen movie.
The year progressed and I made a solid group of friends and adopted a superficial IDGAF attitude. I was able to navigate through my classes well, have some semblance of a social life and even tackle going into Hayden Dining Hall alone. I wasn’t truly myself, but felt some improvement with my new fake-it-till-you-make-it approach.
Sophomore fall I studied abroad in Paris and felt just as lost as I did during Welcome Week. I left behind all my friends that I made in New York, and had to fend myself in this strange, new city. Similarly, I put on a happy face and made incredible friends who had no idea how terrified I actually was. Sophomore spring, I returned to New York and met a Spring in NY student from East Tennessee State University in my French Conversation and Composition class, who became one of my best friends. Every weekend, we saw New York as tourists, and on each of these excursions, we would have honest and open conversations about our lives and feelings. This friend taught me that it’s okay to be vulnerable even if you’re not feeling great.
Junior year, I transferred from Liberal Studies to Gallatin and I was nervous, but excited. My East Tennessean friend returned to East Tennessee and all my other close friends seemed to be abroad. I felt lonely and sad, and for the first time in my life, I was okay admitting that to myself.
But now as a senior, I know a lot more about my true self. I know when I am genuinely happy, how to cope with sadness, how to be proud of my true self and display that confidently. NYU is more than just a university — it’s the opportunity to learn a wealth of knowledge, both about your major and about yourself. It’s a gateway to the city, it’s a lesson on independence and it’s the key to meeting some of the most incredible people who will change who you are. Now I can say that I have truly adopted an IDGAF attitude, but in a much more constructive way — NYU has taught me to be confident and proud, to be honest with myself and to love myself, no matter what that is on this day.
Email Joseph Myers at [email protected]