If you’re reading this, it probably means you already have a vested interest in the subject matter. This letter is for the people who don’t go out on Friday nights, or maybe you do, but feel lonelier at the party than when you’re actually alone. This is also for those of you who feel so out of place that you wonder if you’ll ever find a place. Hopefully it resonates.
Cal Poly, unlike many other schools, is plagued with consistent perfection and lack of diversity. My freshman year, I felt so ridiculously out of place. Of course, as any normally introverted person can tell you, this is not an unfamiliar feeling. High school was filled with a similar feeling, but I knew that the pain of high school would eventually be remedied by college, which, unfortunately, ended up not being the case. I think living on campus made this significantly more unbearable.
I don’t know why Cal Poly hasn’t implemented some kind of living situation survey. For instance, if someone is introverted, maybe they want their own room. Maybe you like parties and lots of friends so you want to be in a more social dorm with a three-person room. When you go to the counseling center or something similar, the first thing you are asked is about your living situation, which tells us that Cal Poly is aware this is the largest contributor to their problem.
So I failed a couple of classes. Let me tell you, the amount of disappointment you feel when you are mentally ill, in a poor living situation, and the school is working against you is something I hope no one ever has to feel. It is excruciating and, worst of all, the school punishes you for struggling. Negative reinforcement. When I failed because I was distraught, the school’s solution was to threaten expulsion if I didn’t raise my GPA. It was miserable. If Cal Poly would’ve found out what the problem was then, I wouldn’t have been generalized as a failure because I was too depressed to pass calculus.
I am not blaming the school although I’m sure that many of you who feel similarly to me think that the school is deserving of this blame. I feel as if it would be useless to blame the school the same way it’s useless to blame the government as an entity rather than specific pieces of it. I will say that to this day I am haunted by my freshman year and still feel as if no one at Cal Poly will ever be able to relate to how I feel.
I would like anyone who feels the same to know that they’re not alone. Just because you aren’t a ripped frat guy or a perky blonde business major does not mean that you are inferior in any way. We live the ways of introverts, enjoying time in small groups and desiring intimate connection.
I know at times you may feel that overwhelming darkness start to swallow you. I know that some of you know which buildings on campus are tall enough to kill you and which aren’t. These are scary things, but I promise they won’t haunt you forever. I promise that you aren’t alone. Don’t be afraid that your closest friends are in books or video games, or that the only people who understand you may never meet you in real life. These are a part of you and there are others out there who share the same sentiment.
Your brain won’t haunt you forever. You will get through it.