To the incoming Stanford Class of 2022,
Are you feeling the buzz, the small hum of electricity that seemingly courses through your fingertips? The restless pull in your stomach as you drive past the neatly manicured palm trees and red-tiled roofs? The impatient visions that come from the anticipation of late night conversations in Old Union and fountain hopping in The Claw?
That was how I felt when I arrived on campus for the very first time as a first year. Driving past the Cardinal red banner hung at the end of Palm Drive and then making my way through the maze-like arteries to Stern Hall on east campus, there was something akin to a magnet holding onto me by the gut and drawing me further into the heart of Stanford. I was excited, and I was prepared.
At least, I thought I was prepared. Whether I wanted it or not, Stanford enveloped me, consumed me, suffocated me with all its Three Books discussions and a cappella busking in White Plaza and countless other points of programming meant to sustain my interest but instead overwhelmed me. And I felt like I was the poor sucker deluded into thinking he actually belonged here when it was clear (at least to me) that he, so very clearly, did not. What did I do to deserve my place in this institution, when I was surrounded by cancer researchers and startup CEOs and programming wizards? The poor admissions officer who I fooled to get in, I thought. My spot could have gone to someone more deserving.
The poor admissions officer who I fooled to get in, I thought. My spot could have gone to someone more deserving.
Now, to say that this resolved itself overnight would be a lie; nevertheless, I grasped upon and held onto the idea that while I couldn’t see my place in Stanford now, perhaps in settling in and exploring without hesitation could help me find those spaces. The power of “yet” was swift and mighty: I soon found the places I could reside in and call home, and I met the people that would become the foundation of the support network I continue to rely on as we all navigate this formative part of our lives.
As I sit here in my freshly unpacked room, eagerly awaiting my own residents to come walking through the double doors of Ng House, let me say this: Stanford is by no means perfect, but neither are you expected to come this way. Indeed, it’s in our presence and our molding of Stanford’s culture and community that I think we find ourselves being molded and changed in turn for the better. You didn’t get into Stanford; you are Stanford.
Enter these new spaces with an open heart and an open mind. Find the people you can celebrate with in your successes, laugh with in your embarrassments, and cry with in your failures. You alone already have the power to shape a small but pivotal part of any community you subscribe to, including the institution itself.
The hum is real and vibrant; it is the life force of the university, the energy of its people and their perspectives awaiting to be tapped by you and your own perspectives. Allow Stanford to sing to you; what you hear is just as important as what you sing back.
And in case you haven’t heard it yet: you got this.
Until next time,