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Belonging is such a strange concept to me. What does it mean to belong in a place? Merriam-Webster defines belonging as “to be suitable, appropriate, or advantageous.” By that definition I suppose I might have “belonging” here in Kennesaw State. I certainly didn’t in High School. My time in High School was not the most enjoyable experience, in fact it kind of sucked. (I’m sure a lot of people can relate.)
The constant pressure to succeed, the social stigma of being a little bit weird, and the self-imposed stress of never having time to peruse my interests and hobbies left me with a deep pervasive feeling that the school was an antagonistic force in my life, which made me less than enthusiastic to go there every day, receiving my assignments and immediately heading home to work. Half the time I wouldn’t have the energy to pursue any creative outlets, which would leave me feeling unfulfilled. Anyone with creative interests can understand a life without a way to express ourselves would be incredibly sad. Any time I’ve spent an extended period of time without creating something I get a constant unrelenting itch in the back of my head, reminding me that if I don’t spend time drawing I’ll never get better at it.
My High School didn’t provide any flexibility for the interests of its students, and this inflexibility caused me to become deeply insecure in my views of my own skills, both in and out of the classroom. I ended up being hyper critical of my appearance, actions, and decisions. I never felt like I belonged while in high school because I was nonconformable in every situation I found myself in; always worrying about whether a word I had said upset a classmate, whether the shade of blue of the shirt I was wearing didn’t go with the pants I had chosen that morning, and whether the hours I had spent finishing a project was enough.
But to my surprise, most if not all those worries disappeared after moving to Kennesaw State. Almost every time I’ve entered one of my classrooms, I don’t feel the familiar nagging feeling that I am not doing enough, that I haven’t earned my place there among my classmates. I’ve found myself talking to others, making friends, taking risks, and generally being more confident and happier than I was inside the brick walls of my formally-a-bomb-shelter school building.
The flexibility of my course schedule allows me to complete my studies and projects as well as spend time with friends and doing things that makes me happy. No longer will I have to choose!
After coming to Kennesaw State I’ve gained a confidence I didn’t know I had in me. Maybe it’s just the fact that I’m surrounded by fresh faces, but I truly believe that I’ve found a place where I can be myself without worrying how I look and act, a place where I belong, and it leaves me feeling optimistic about my future here.
It was a Friday night during my very first semester of high school. I was home alone and was settling down to watch Netflix with my cat Pumpkin. Just as I had picked a show, I heard a car horn…