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Kathryn's Identity

kross825's picture

Both of my parents went to respectable colleges, and left no doubt in my mind that I would also be attending a high ranking college. As a child, they sent me to math groups for advanced students, had me attend numerous piano lessons, and encouraged me to be active in athletics as well as activities. My father had gone to Yale, a school that is "very good but never something we, as kids, should brag about." When I was a sophomore in high school, my brother followed our father's footsteps and also attended Yale. Immediately, I felt the weight of my college life fall upon me. Although no girl in my family had attended Yale, it was silently assumed that I would apply there as well. I continued to strive for perfection and for the praise of my parents. My junior year, when I began looking at colleges, my mom stressed the importance of applying to Yale. Quickly, my father interviened to warn me that "I may not be qualified for a Yale education." The year continued with a similar theme: I should go to a good school but I was not smart enough for the greats. My self esteem plummeted. By senior year, I had convinced myself that my successes were due to luck and had nothing to do with intelligence or determination. I was contacted at the end of September my senior year by the field hockey coach at Haverford. To my family, this was great news. Haverford was a wonderful school and they wanted me. Of course I was excited to go, but I couldn't help feeling like I cheated the system. After all, I wasn't "smart enough" for Yale so why should I be "smart enough" for Haverford. Even as I graduated high school as the valedictorian I felt inferior to those around me. Starting Haverford, I identified with the bottom half of the class before class even began. Talking in public gave me severe anxiety because I didn't want people to realize that I wasn't "smart enough" for this school. I was ashamed of my athlete title because I thought it was more evidence that I wasn't as smart as my peers. It took me most of my freshmen year to finally understand that I belong at Haverford and deserve to be here. Although I still feel the need to prove that I am more than just an athlete, I have learned to identify with my classmates and utilize the resources that Haverford provides. I am still intimidated in class, something I have learned will never change, but I have grown to realize everyone has something important to offer. I may not be the smartest in my classes, but that does not mean my voice should be silenced. Today, I proudly identify as a Haverford student because I belong here, not because I'm lucky. 


adwyer's picture

I can definitely relate to part of your post. You write, “I was ashamed of my athlete title…”. I have played soccer, basketball, and lacrosse at Bryn Mawr College. I agree that there does come a certain stigma about being an athlete. I have experienced comments like “you probably don’t have time to study a lot because you play sports” and “teachers probably give athletes higher grades”. Although there are times when I too am ashamed of my athlete title, the negative stigma that sometimes comes with being an athlete does motivate me to change the stigma.