Reach Out & Reach Out (The 5th Thing I Learned Sophomore Year)
People are incredibly kind at Vanderbilt. The Commons RAs are all amazing people who are usually very accessible, and if your RA doesn’t happen to be, then the other three or four RAs n the building are only a floor away. Most of them hang out a lot with their residents in the Common Room and really care about how their residents are doing (and to them, “residents” doesn’t just mean their floor, but their entire house). If you just need someone to sit with you, it’s okay to ask literally anyone, and there are so many people between your floor, your house, and your classes. If you need help on General Chemistry or calculus, you probably only need to ask someone who’s doing well, and there are always tutors at the Tutoring Center, located very close to Commons, where the freshmen live. If you need help calling the PCC (Psychological Counseling Center) to set up an appointment, there will be someone there for you. If you need just a little extra help and you need to reach out to the Center for Student Wellbeing, there will be someone there for you.
Most of the time, all you have to do is ask. And the people you will find in the asking are usually incredible, inspiring individuals, just like those who continue to inspire me.
Before coming to Vanderbilt, I had been around some generous people, but because Vanderbilt mixes school, extracurriculars, housing, and therefore, life altogether, the people at school became family. I found people who gave generously of their time, money, and energy, and they just inspired me so much (You’re going to hear a lot of “inspire” here :)). They taught me to (1) not be afraid to ask if I’m overwhelmed, to reach out to others for myself and (2) to reach out for others in the same way. They taught me, most of all, that no one is a burden.
I’ve felt like I was imposing at times at Vanderbilt – when I reached out to someone for advice on school, faith, or extracurriculars, when I went to office hours a lot during Math 2500 my freshman year (read; three to four times a week), when I scheduled appointments with my professors to talk about how to construct writing assignments. I’ve felt like I shouldn’t have reached out. In every case, I’m glad asked. And I’m forever inspired by the girl who gave me one of her coats sophomore year – when Sydney heard in Phi Lamb chapter that I had lost my coat and was layering with sweaters during the winter, she insisted on loaning me a coat. At the end of the winter, before she graduated, I tried to give it back, but she told me that she had seen how much I had grown to love the coat and wouldn’t take it back. I literally could never thank her enough for giving me such a beautiful gift, and that is still the most amazing example of generosity that anyone has ever done for me.
Sometimes I just needed someone to talk to after a day of solid studying and work, and it was incredible how some people could just listen for fifteen or twenty minutes or whatever, just sitting there in Stevenson, our science center. Sometimes I needed help or supplies for an event, and all I had to do was call one of my friends, Peter Kim, and he biked to Kroger and back to get me whatever I needed. I still can’t believe how unbelievably generous he has been with his time and no matter how many times I have thanked him, like Sydney, I can’t thank him enough. Matthew walked 30 minutes and then tore apart a house to look for my lost music freshman year, and Christina has shown up to help set up at University Catholic events when I forgot to ask anyone. They are such models of giving.
I’m the first to admit that I can be selfish with my time, money, and energy, but because of the example of people like Sydney, Peter Kim, Matthew, Christina, and a few others who have really shown me true generosity, I’m hoping to become more like them. So I try to reach out to others for others’ sake, by talking to the quieter people, by loaning my charger, dress clothes, and offering to run errands, etc. I’m working on it, but I think I’m learning.
Let me know what you think by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org! I would love love love to hear from you on anything you’ve read here or any of my other blog postings on Inside Dores.