Dora Guo

It was Friday, February 28, and I had just been through a week of hell. I had finished almost all of my midterms, with one more due that night. In addition, I had a figure skating show the next day. The whole week was hectic, but by Friday, a lot of the stress had died down. The paper due in the evening was still pretty stressful, though. In high school, I struggled with textual analysis, and I also wasn’t the biggest fan of poetry. So a paper analyzing Walt Whitman’s Calamus Cluster was a daunting task that would have benefited from a lengthy drafting and revision process. Unfortunately, I am quite the procrastinator, so editing was out the window.

To work on it, I camped out in Fussy Coffee for the better part of the afternoon. The shop had large panoramic windows that let in a lot of warmth, and being Southern Californian, I’m drawn to bright sunlight. As I started to write the paper, I found myself reflecting on the semester as a whole. The winter was definitely tough for me. I liked all of my classes, but I was struggling with managing classwork, clubs and a social life. Being in the sun and succeeding in tackling an area of study I was nervous about made me feel a whole lot better about the semester. I had grown a lot.

After I turned in the paper, I met up with two new friends from English class for dinner. We were still in the stage of our friendship when I felt like I had to be “on” all the time. I knew they liked me and that they weren’t judgmental, but I still felt guarded. That night lifted that anxiety. I got to know them a lot better over dinner and throughout the night. Audrey is extremely chaotic but also incredibly hardworking, and she also has crushes on too many skinny white boys with long hair. Katia is like a mom to all of her suitemates but also is willing to belt out the “Gilmore Girls” theme song on Old Campus at midnight.

After dinner, Katia and I went to our friend’s a cappella concert. I was a bit nervous to go, even though I was excited for my friends that were performing. I had been rejected by the group at the beginning of the year. While the sting had mostly healed, I also knew that seeing the group would make me have a lot of Feelings. The concert turned out really well, though. Seeing my friends do what they love and what they’re good at silenced any feelings of jealousy or self-doubt that I could have had. I finally got over the rejection that night.

After the concert, Katia and I went to the group’s after-party. I had never gone to a party with her, so I wasn’t sure how the night would turn out. It wound up being one of my favorite parties of the year. The house was cramped and sweaty and hot and I didn’t really know any of the music, but the environment was welcoming. Everyone was dancing with everyone. Katia and I stayed together for a while, but we eventually drifted apart after we each saw some of our other friends. I bounced around for a bit, as I’m prone to do, and eventually found myself reconnecting with people I hadn’t talked to since the beginning of the semester. The music was really loud, and I allowed myself to let my guard down and just dance. Even though I had been to several parties that semester, I couldn’t remember a time where I actually let myself have fun.

The night ended up being more hectic than I had initially planned. One of my friends from the skating team invited me to a different party, but by the time I got there, she was leaving. Due to my newly determined mindset to have fun, I didn’t let that stop me from having a good time. I stayed with her friends after she left and ended up dancing on a platform in front of the rest of the party. Her friends, who I didn’t know too well, hyped me up as I jumped around to music I didn’t know. It was freeing.

In high school, I had a lot of insecurities. I liked performing on stage but I never wanted all of the attention on me. Being a supporting player to someone else was enough for me. While I don’t consider that mindset incorrect, it was certainly limiting. Being the center of attention is less intimidating than I thought. In fact, it’s actually pretty fun. As the party wound down and I prepared to trek back to my dorm across campus, I made myself a promise to try to get out of the corner at parties. I haven’t found the opportunity to do so yet, with the way the semester turned out. However, I’m certainly not going to give up on that promise next year.


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