Dear Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors,

Don’t let fear control you. It’s a waste of time and you’ll ultimately be filled with regret. Fear keeps us from doing things that would benefit us and shape us into better human beings. Throughout junior high and high school, I felt stupid academically because I seriously sucked at math and science and never felt as smart as my peers. When I started college, I wanted to prove myself academically so I poured my everything into my classes and studies. I didn’t make friends and I didn’t participate in any clubs or activities. Even though I would spend hours and hours on a single basic assignment, I was still afraid of being looked at as stupid so I never raised my hand in class. I kept my mouth shut in hopes that I could just quietly get through college with a 4.00.

While my grades were outstanding, I was empty. I wasn’t fulfilled in my work and I knew I was lacking something. That something was friendship and wanting to be involved. I remember during my sophomore year, in my first communications class with Professor Farmer, she called on me and internally I began freaking out. I slowly and quietly answered her question and then started to breathe again. I realized that it wasn’t so bad and after that I began to feel more comfortable in class. The following semester I actually branched out and met people and made friends. However, I still hung on to my fear of not being good enough if I didn’t get all A's, because I believed that I was somehow proving something to someone.

It wasn’t until the beginning of this past spring semester that I realized what I had done to myself. I wasn’t getting nearly enough sleep, my diet was horrible, and I wasn’t exercising. I spent the vast majority of my time sitting because I had to make sure that my assignments were perfect before I turned them in. This was before I got sick. I woke up one morning in January with chills, aches and swollen lymph nodes. When it became apparent that I wasn’t getting better and my lymph nodes were only becoming more swollen, I finally went to the doctor. Two appointments and one procedure later, I found out that I had a 2cm nodule on my thyroid that needed to be biopsied. All of sudden I realized that I actually needed to take care of myself physically. I had become so wrapped up in my grades and keeping my 4.00 that I neglected the other aspects of my life. My health had suffered because of my poor choice of priorities and I was filled with regret as a result.

So my advice to you freshmen, sophomores, and juniors is this: Don’t let fear of embarrassment, failure, or rejection keep you from doing things outside of your comfort zone. You’ll look back on all the opportunities and wish you could go back and try them out. Don’t be filled with regret. Take the leap of faith and do it. And also make sure to take care of yourself. You don’t want to end up with a health scare to make you realize that it’s time to let go of your GPA. I’m not saying don’t try your best and forget about your grades. What I’m saying is don’t let it become your god, because it’s not worth it. What you do for others and the impact you can have on those around you is so much more important than a number on a resume or transcript. Don’t let fear control you.