Freshman year sometimes feels like an extravagant summer camp filled with hormonal and wickedly intelligent 18 year-olds. There are bunk beds that would’ve been amazing 10 years ago and too many ice cream socials and friends who don’t yet know about your secret obsession with socks. But this camp doesn’t end after a few weeks of uninhibited indulgence. It’s the next four years. It’s the first trickle of sweet, sweet independence, and when a group of 2000 ambitious freshmen experiences it together, summer camp becomes pretty intense.
So here’s what I’ve been up to lately, as a newly inducted member of Camp Duke:
At 10PM a few nights ago, I was scrolling through Facebook, participating in the millennial’s daily prescription of social media-ing. The usual. I found this post written by my engineering professor Dr. G, MATLAB wizard by day, happy hippy therapist by night:
In case you can’t read that screenshot:
We’re in week two, and I am starting to get the sense that this already needs to be said —
You. Are. Enough.
In fact, you are more than enough. Don’t let that get to your head, but it’s true.
And there’s any moment where your belief in that waivers?
Find one of use to talk to. Find several of use to talk to.
Who are we?
The Student Affairs and Academic Folks. The RAs and GAs and RCs and FIRs (oh my!). The amazing team that maintain the dorms and prepare the food and keep the grounds. The faculty and the graduate and undergraduate TAs. The other people on your floor, or on other floors, or in other buildings. Or at the dining hall. Or in the library. All those who are At and Of Duke.
Just like your are.
A few nights later, my roommate Zoe and my Texan friend Anna ended up talking late into the night in our dorm. Christmas lights dangled from the wall and outlined their faces just enough to make our shoebox of a dorm feel like a mid-July slumber party. We talked about hookup culture, the merits of love and religion, the weird idea that college is supposed to be the most memorable four years of our lives. We talked about no longer being the best, about not being strong enough to fail, about not being enough.
Freshman year is meaningful in so many different ways to the 2000 campers who’ve hauled their belongings/fears/dreams onto this campus a little less than a month ago. It can be a year of discomfort or exploration or overwhelming freedom. I know that it’s been all of those things for me. But for what it’s worth, freshman year is not a time to lose faith in yourself.
The canned version is that there is a reason we were all admitted to a school that had its most selective admissions year yet. Administration mentioned it all throughout o-week. Professors are stealthily reminding us on social media. Perhaps the exact reason is stashed away somewhere deep in the annals of the undergraduate admissions house, and perhaps we’ll never know exactly what compelled our acceptance, but the people I’ve met here want to disrupt the fabric of convention. Right now, groups on campus are inventing the most efficient electric vehicle in the world and building an environmentally sustainable Smart Home and designing AESTHETIC AF fashion magazines because they can, so they are.
The thought of failing in this vibrant environment is absolutely intimidating. I may not be the best at anything here, but the challenge of becoming the best is so darn alluring. I am here for the charming Christmas lights and the somewhat unproductive late night conversations and the professors who can feed me ice cream and wisdom at the same time. Plus, a little a cappella and free sketch comedy shows never hurt anyone.
Summer camp is low key paradise, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment.
Yes, my Facebook is in Spanish. Yes, would recommend.
Also, you should click on all the links.
Also, if you didn’t know already, I gotchu, but more importantly, you gotchu. That was a lot of commas.