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Not anymore

I never thought of myself as an inspiration. In my tiny mind, it seemed to me that I have achieved only a fragmented portion of what other international Romanian students have. I read about them gaining momentum almost every month now because they were already thought of as prodigies who secured the bag overseas. Praise them all.  

I never give myself enough credit. Striving for more is authentic and cannot be done by everyone, thus I always give myself a seemingly invisible pat on the back and continue to do more. Apply for this. Delegate that. Travel there. Take a course in this.

I was told I am not made for STEM. Specifically the pre-med field. I strongly believed that myself. I did not understand chemistry and biology in high school, I had other class mates that were invincible in this domain. I did not know what I was good at, I just knew it was most definitely not this. Maybe law. Maybe public speaking. Maybe politics. Anything else, but not this. And I swallowed my instinct and followed through.

I got into the best women’s college in the world only to realize that was a lie. A manufactured lie told by my fed up teachers for students who needed a stronger push to understand a vaster, much harder subject. I realized this while I studied the entire nervous system in three days without eating. Not because it was too much, but because I was completely grappled by it. By its intricacy. Beauty. And by finally understanding it. I just did not want to get up and do anything else. I have never experienced this feeling with writing, a person, or any other hobby I might have had along the way.

Here’s the thing: tomorrow morning I might find it boring and move on. You will constantly find me in search of my passions, as I do not believe one person should focus on thing and one thing only. The catch is I can do that. I can get up and try another thing I have never had the resources for back home. I could try for varsity without draining my parents’ pockets. I could write for any paper I want without having to e-mail every editor in town begging for a chance. I could pursue my fashion adoration and join an organization focused on that.

Want to hear something funny? I am already doing these things. I do not flaunt them as I think about my friends back home. When I ring up my best friend to tell her about this quite busy day I had filled with so many different activities, it pains me knowing she should have access to the same things I do. I know for a fact I am building up a much stronger person within me with every resource I have.

And there are bad days too. Last Friday I cried in my professor’s office when she told me I need a writing tutor. In the back of my mind, I was continuously told I am the best in this domain. It turns out that when English is not your first language, barriers unearth from the ground and shake you to your core. It destroyed me. But at the same time, she tied me to a weekly English tutor only to see me grow. “That is my job, Julia. To help you.” Nobody ever said this to me as a professor without having me to slip up some cash on the table. I was in awe.

I only have access to this abundance of resources because I worked with everything I had back home to get here. And I weep at the thought of my what-if self that could have stayed in Romania if her parents had not pushed her enough. If my parents had not sacrificed every single penny to put me through whatever available instructor offered to pitch in. If they had not believed in me and my vision.

I am proud to say I will major in neuroscience starting next semester. To everyone back home who said I am far too unprepared for this: I get it. I thought so too.

Not anymore.

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