A few weeks ago, I met with a professor at Florida State in an attempt to receive guidance. What I got was so much more.
I had never spoken to him directly before, but had heard such phenomenal things about him, so I was eager to meet him. I went into his office with an open mind, hoping to leave with a clear decision about what major I wanted to pursue. His office was homey with pictures of his family scattered across his stuffed bookshelves. His desk was cluttered with hand-written Post-It notes and stacks of papers that looked oh-so important. I felt slightly intimidated, but extremely excited. I had thought that he’d introduce himself or ask me what I’d needed help with. Instead, our encounter went like this:
Him: Who are you?
Me: Hi. I’m Helena and I’m a junior in the Editing, Writing, and–
Him: No, no, no. I didn’t ask what your name is. I asked, ‘Who are you?’
He cut me off guard, to say the least. I scrambled for a better answer as my face started to flush hot pink. I didn’t have time to respond.
Him: Okay, let me rephrase that. Why are you here?
I told him that I was looking for guidance on my major, my internship, my classes, my future in general. I was honestly so confused. I looked around, thinking I might be in the wrong place. He was putting me in such an uncomfortable spot; I had never had to think about these things in such an uncomfortable setting.
After a few minutes of awkward conversation, he told me he wanted to get to my core; he wanted to understand what kind of person I was. Despite the fact that I was extremely caught off-guard and red in the face, I almost enjoyed the hard-hitting questions. I liked thinking about my future because I am always worrying about it. The not-knowing is what gives me anxiety.
Him: What are your passions? What do you do in your free time? What drives you to succeed? What makes you you?
I was absorbing his every word. With each pounding question, I asked myself, “Who am I?” If I don’t know, who does?
As I sat in his office, it dawned on me: I didn’t know who I was. And this realization terrified me.
I had always seen myself as the crazy girl, the one that no one understood. I loved meeting people, but hated walking up to people I didn’t know. I loved working, but hated monotonous jobs. I loved writing, but only when it encouraged creativity. I loved being organized, but hated cleaning my room. I loved mornings, but hated getting up early. I was a walking contradiction.
His incredibly blunt questions pushed me outside my limits; they encouraged me to reach inside myself and discover who I was. And ever since that first encounter with that professor weeks ago, I have been trying to figure that out.
He encouraged me to start this blog. And even though it’s taken me weeks, I finally did it. This is my first step in discovering who I am.
Thank you for coming along for the ride. It’ll be a bumpy one.