My motivation comes from my insecurities, or rather, my desire to do away with them. 

This fall was my first semester at USC, and it’s changed my perspective a lot. I left UNLV more confident than ever, but walking onto a new college campus and meeting tons of new people brought back that “freshman year” experience all over again. When I first got to USC, a lot of my insecurities resurfaced. I found myself thinking too much about making a good first impression. A lot of decisions I thought I had already made came into question. Am I being ambitious enough in my career goals? Should I study abroad even though it would delay my graduation? Should I participate in more student organizations? I hadn’t cared about any of these things since I first graduated high school. What’s the point of all of this? It showed me that insecurity is contextual. My confidence isn’t just a function of who I am, but also of how I see everyone around me: how much I value their opinions, and how I compare myself to them.

Throughout this semester, I’ve made some pretty substantial changes. First, I changed my career goals. For the past two years, I’d had my eyes set on becoming a high school teacher. Aiming for that type of job didn’t give me any reason to really try in college. There’s no competition to become a high school math teacher. It’s not an ambition that I could bring myself to be proud of. Then, I started looking at clubs to join. As a high school student, I hadn’t participated in anything. I had never taken on a leadership position. But at USC, it seems like everyone’s taken on some sort of leadership role. I don’t want to miss out on that experience. Now, I’m thinking of studying abroad. I had thought about this before, but it always seemed unreasonable. Studying abroad is too expensive. It’s too time-consuming. And I could always find time to travel later when I’m not in school. But it’s an experience I want to have. And it’s an experience I would be excited to tell others about.

As the semester comes to a close, I find myself a lot less insecure. I’ve made changes that I’m proud of. And what’s most important to me is that I’ve turned my insecurities into something positive: motivation (that’s right, tying it back to the prompt. YES.).  Of course there are still things that I will worry about, and of course I’ll still be self-conscious when I meet new people. And next time I find myself in a new place, whether it’s at a new workplace or studying abroad in a new country, a lot of these worries will probably resurface. But that’s fine.

Here comes the corny advice (to go along with the corny post): let your insecurities drive you. You have three options:

  1. Be proud of yourself.
  2. Become someone you’ll be proud of.
  3. Be a weenie.

The third is not a valid option. It’s stupid.