To The Slightly Shell-Shocked Introverted College Freshman

To The Slightly Shell-Shocked Introverted College Freshman

I know your nervous, but its fine I promise.
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Hey Friend,

You're probably reading this to affirm your overwhelming anxiety, or to search for some advice from a fellow introvert. Well, you're in the right place.

In high school, I happily shared a smile with everyone in my way. Contrastingly, the first thing I learned in college was that not everyone has the same heart as you, unfortunately. Whatever you do, DO NOT let this cause you to close into your shell, because that is exactly what I did. Despite the overwhelming pit in your stomach, you have to let your wings show. Once you allow yourself to expand, you will find that people gravitate toward you, rather than yourself getting so nervous that you sound like a broken toy talking to someone.

Freshman year is terrifying for people like you and me.

And that's OK.

Take this time to become the person you've always looked up to. Stay up late to go to Sonic with the girl that sits next to you in English, or the guy that sits behind you in Bio. Tell the person on the elevator they have nice shoes. When you run into your professor of your 400 student lecture class, introduce yourself. You'll slowly learn to breathe normally near the people around you.

I always have this assumption that my existence is an inconvenience for my peers. I know this may sound really deep, but it is precisely what caused me to become so introverted and overflowing with social anxiety. I take everything personally. When I answer in class, people look at me. I know, you're thinking, "Well, duh." but I just assumed that I was being judged or sounded ignorant. But I promise everyone is just as awkward and as nervous as you. You might have an unpopular opinion, or feel stupid, or totally brain fart and ask a silly question and feel completely and utterly embarrassed when your professor responds with a snappy, witty response. Just know, I've been there, once I expressed my opinion on a law and my professor stared at me and completely stepped on my opinion because it was different than hers. I was flushed and felt like everyone would think I'm an idiot.

Just know, that literally everyone will forget a silly mistake in less than a week, including yourself. You need to embrace the fact that you are a person who appreciates being alone.

When you cancel plans to stay in your dorm with friends, do not feel defeated, feel empowered. Use this time to recharge. Read a book, watch Netflix, if you're a Christian, READ YOUR BIBLE! Your alone time is the best time for some Jesus. When you disconnect from the people you're around all day, you have time to dive into the word of God with an open mind. You will grasp the Gospel in ways you did not know possible. God knitted you in your mother's womb to work for him. We are always told to leap out of our comfort zones, but sometimes, that's so hard. Use this quiet time to realize that you're perfectly normal.

Best Wishes!

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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I'm That Girl With A Deep Voice, But I'm Not Some Freak Of Nature

I have learned to hold back tears when someone tells me that I sound like a man.

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My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I joke that rather than getting higher, my voice got lower throughout puberty.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to laugh when my family members say "Hi Todd" when they pick up the phone when I call. Todd is my brother. I am a girl.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to laugh when I have been asked by other females if they're "in the right bathroom" when I tell them "I'm not in line" or "someone's in here" when there's a knock on the stall.

Keep in mind that in most female bathrooms, there are no urinals present and there is a sign outside the door that says "WOMEN." Quite obviously, they're in the correct bathroom, just thrown off by the octave of my voice.

For the girl who asked me if she was in the right bathroom because she was "caught off guard and thought I was a boy," I'm just wondering...

What part about my long hair, mascara, shorts not down to my knees, presence (small presence, but a presence none the less) of boobs, and just my overall demeanor was not enough validation that you are, in fact, in the correct restroom?

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to hold back tears when someone tells me that I sound like a man. Or, when someone calls me over to talk to their friends so they can see how "offsetting" my voice sounds to them.

My favorite story is when I was in a store, and I asked one of the women there a question about a product.

This woman had the audacity to ask me when I "went through my transformation."

She was suggesting that I was a transgender girl because of the sound of my voice. Please recognize that I respect and wholeheartedly accept the trans- population. Please also recognize that I was born a girl, still am a girl, always will be a girl, and asking someone if they are a different gender than they appear to be is not the best way to make a sale.

Frustrated, I told her that she should find a better plastic surgeon and walked out.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be.

And, to make matters worse, I am not your typical "girly-girl."

I die for the New York Rangers, have maybe two dresses in my closet but three shelves full of hand-me-down sweatshirts from my brother and Adidas pants. I do not own a "blouse" nor do I plan on owning one except maybe for business-casual occasions.

Naturally, when a deep voice is paired with a sports-oriented, athletic short-loving, sarcastic girl who couldn't tell you the difference between a stiletto and an average high-heel, I GUESS things can seem "off." However, regardless of the difference you see/hear, no one has the right to make someone feel bad about themselves.

What I always struggled with the most is how (most, moral, common-sense) people will never tell someone they don't know, who may be overweight, that "they're fat" or that they don't like the shirt that they're wearing. Yet, because my voice is not something physically seen, it has become fair game for strangers and acquaintances alike to judge and make comments about.

I used to break down into hysterics when I heard a comment about my voice, whether I was six years old or seventeen years old.

There are times that I still do because I am so fed up and just completely bamboozled by the fact that at the age of twenty, there are still people who just have a blatant disregard for others' feelings and a lack of understanding of what is okay to say and what is not okay to say.

But, just like I ask those people not to judge me, I suppose I can't judge them on their lack of common sense and respect for others.

I'd be lying if I said that the hundreds of thousands of comments I've heard and received targeted at my voice growing up did not play a role in my life. I used to want to be a sports broadcaster. I no longer want to be heard on the radio or seen on TV; snarky comments about my voice being one of the reasons why (among others, like a change of interest and just overall life experiences).

I'd be lying if I said that my struggle with public speaking didn't partially stem from negative feedback about my voice.

I'd be lying if I said that there weren't days I tried to talk as little as possible because I didn't want to be judged and that I am sometimes hesitant to introduce myself to new people because I'm scared my voice will scare them away.

I would also be lying if I said that my voice didn't make me who I am.

I joke constantly about it now, because half the shit that comes out of my mouth mixed with my actions, interests, beliefs, etc., would sound absolutely WHACK if I had a high-pitched "girly" voice.

My voice matches my personality perfectly, and the criticism I have and continue to receive for my "manly" sounding voice has helped shaped me into who I am today. I have learned to love my voice when people have relentlessly tried to make me hate it. I have learned to take the frustration I felt towards my voice and turn it into sympathy for those who have something going on in their life, and therefore feel compelled to make a comment about me, a stranger's voice, to make themselves feel better.

I've learned that to laugh at yourself is to love yourself.

And, I say this not for sympathy. Not for someone to say, "Wait, Syd, I love your voice!"

I say this because I want it to be a reminder for people to watch what they say, and use that noggin before you speak. I say this because I also want to be the voice (haha, get it, 'voice') for those who feel like they've lost theirs.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

So no, I would not be a good alto in a choir because I think I'm tone deaf. And, when you call MY phone number, it is very unlikely that it is my brother or dad answering. Just say hello, because 99.9% of the time, if it's ME you're calling, it's ME that's answering.

Dr. Suess said, "A person's a person no matter how small."

Now I'm saying, "A girl is a girl no matter her octave."

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To The Teacher Who Broke My Spirit

Education should not be like this.

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No one should have to sit in a classroom and feel absolutely horrible about themselves. No one should have extreme dread going to office hours. Education should not be like this.

I have always been an A+ student my entire life. Even throughout college, I have remained a diligent and hard-working student. I've loved being involved and engaged in all of my classes. Up until you, I've enjoyed going to class and learning.

You have broken my spirit.

When I walk into your class, I feel completely incompetent. I doubt myself and intelligence every single day. I feel like no matter how much effort I put in, I get nothing out. I could study and do homework for hours on end, yet I still only get below average grades. Every time I have to email you or attend office hours, I have extreme anxiety. Anything that involves you or your class makes me cringe. I know may this sounds super dramatic, but we've all been there at one point or another—and it flat out sucks.

Although you have made my life an absolute living hell, there's one silver lining to having to endure your class. You've made me appreciate all of the incredible professors I've had in the past. You've taught me what a real teacher is, and that is not you.

A real teacher is someone who genuinely wants his/her students to succeed, in both academics and life. They are not the easiest professors in the world, but they are kind and approachable. That is all I ask. I am not looking for an "easy A" from you or your class. I am looking for a teacher that has compassion for not only the topic but for the students too. You give the teachers who genuinely do amazing work a bad rep.

At the end of the day, you have taught me a life lesson...that not all people want me to succeed. In life, there will be people and things that stand in my way of achieving my goals. You have broken my spirit, but only temporarily. If anything, you have taught me to rise above the criticism and the negativity. I am not defined by the grade you give me or the way you treat me. I refuse to sink to your level.

You may have broken my spirit for now, but you will not keep me down for long. As Winston Churchill said,

"Kites fly highest against the wind—not with it."

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