ST. HILAIRE | Good Things Come to Those Who Wait, Trust Me, I’d Know

I don’t recognize myself right now. 

Not in a bad way, it’s just that this person who greets me at the mirror each morning is miles ahead of where I expected her to be, or should I say, where I expected myself to be. 

Every semester, I’ve made a habit of checking in with myself with a single question: “Would your freshman year self recognize you?” I don’t know where the question stems from. I don’t know why I continue to ask it semester after semester. Yet, every semester I do, and I can say with certainty that the answer is a strong and resounding “no,” and I’m proud of that. 

For reference, freshman year Catherine was someone to know, and some of you did. She was 17, younger than her peers and hyper-aware of it. She was scared of being away from home and alone for the first time in her life.

WILK | Following That ‘I Don’t Belong Here’ Feeling

Google Maps was my first friend at Cornell. I was so scared of looking lost freshman year that I never went anywhere without company, and before I knew anyone, my typing that brought the app to life was close enough to a walking partner. Together, we studied campus cartography with the kind of obsession that comes from intimidation and also adds it — the kind teenage girls teach each other to survey social scenes with. At 18, my college career could’ve been cut short more than once, all because I had my nose stuck deep in the paths on my phone screen rather than keeping my eyes on the very real roads around me. After four years, I still find myself craving direction when trying to find any of the places I haven’t been, but I guess crutches never claim to teach you how to walk on your own. 

I’m just now learning how nice walking on your own can be.