As I packed up my freshman year dorm room this month, I sorted through accumulated knick-knacks, tossing some into a box I would leave in the Saybrook basement and others into the trash or donation bins. To my surprise, I found my first Yale ID in the bottom of a drawer with barely a scratch, the only photo I had of myself at the time — post-braces in front of a white background. I lost this ID only a few weeks into my first semester and had not found it until then. My junior year self smiled back at me, dressed in my high school uniform and full of not-so-hidden perfectionist anxieties regarding my extracurricular involvement, academic record, appearance, reputation and more.
On this ID, I also saw the sticker for which I had first walked into my residential college office — my credentials for Saybrook-only dining hall dinners. I didn’t yet know how much I would love Saybrook, as it quickly became the source of my closest friends and everything I needed during the hardest parts of my first semesters. Out of pure laziness, and not a lack of Sabrugian pride, I never picked up another sticker. (I’m sorry, Ms. Linda! Maybe one day.)
I remembered receiving this ID along with my room key on that sweltering August day, so excited to be a “real” Yale student. My seemingly unattainable dream had come true! Everything I’d ever wanted was now at my fingertips. I had access to gates and doors that some travel from afar just to peer through. And I would live in a castle! I thought the disbelief would never settle.
Attached to it was the lanyard I was scared to wear in fear of divulging my first-year status, as if my wide and wandering eyes, embarrassingly prolonged use of Apple maps on my walks to class and need to snap a tourist-esque picture every time I went outside didn’t give it away.
Although I’ve since made the trek to the ID center and paid the $20 for a new ID, I decided to keep this old one. I think next year, I’ll proudly display it on a Command hook as a reminder of my first-year excitement and awe. While being a Yale student is my reality and no longer just a dream, I hope I never become accustomed to living in such beautiful buildings and being surrounded by so much intelligence and passion. I want to always be just as excited about attending Yale as I was when I first heard the “Bulldog” fight song play from my admissions portal. And I hope my Instagram followers never grow tired of seeing shots of Harkness Tower from every angle, time of day and season.