It Takes a Village

Crisp air whips through my sweater as my feet crunch on leaves covering the bricks that line NC State, and it is finally fall. In October everyone loves a good scare, but what has me startled right now are my classes. While seriously spooky, October is my least favorite month–it’s actually the worst month, seriously.

I’ve reached that point in the semester where I may as well be consuming coffee for my three square meals a day, sleep is howling my name like a rowdy pack of wolves, and classes have ramped up so that I have gone from easy going to just barely making it and by the looks of my color filled agenda just shouting to me that I have spread myself too thin, this won’t be ending any time soon. Everyone’s stress is high and rightfully so; school gets tough. I even got stressed about conquering this blog post, I looked at it for weeks mulling over what I would share with everyone.

We all seek a safe space in difficult times, and for me that’s home. The thought of settling down on my favorite spot in the couch with my loved ones around me is an instant stress reliever. I know that the time spent around my family will be full of storytelling and tons of laughter. It’s comforting thought to know you can return home to that, but here at school I miss out on a lot of the time I took for granted before I got to college. Yet as down and out as I may be about whatever is going on around me, I know that when I can’t get home I can always rely on my village. We all know that old African proverb, “It takes a whole village to raise a child” and though I have surpassed my childhood years, I would dare to say that this applies to everything. Whatever it is that you are striving for, you are going to need your village to bring you through and here at school my village spreads wide and far.

Since I’ve been so vulnerable already, it seems appropriate to introduce myself. My name is Amira, I am from a town in North Carolina called Kernersville, and I am studying biological sciences here at NC State, and when I arrived I thought I could do it all. I came from a fairly large high school, I had a good academic standing, and I was really independent–the components of a genius, right? Wrong, actually. I thought that I had college under my belt and toward the end of my first semester I received my third chemistry test back. In a mix of sheer horror and sadness, I received my first bad grade. I spent a day beating myself up over my mistakes and feeling hopeless until I realized that I couldn’t change what happened. In fact, I was more worried about how all of my friends did in comparison to me than I was about figuring out how to fix my mistakes. At the end of the day, I knew that I needed help. So, I sought refuge in my village.

…I learned that asking for help from someone was not at all a taint on my intelligence, but an act of courage.

From the time I stepped on campus I knew that I had a village here. I can attribute this to the Goodnight Scholars Program, but outside of my forty-nine best friends in the Class of 2021, I had plenty of friends old and new that were there to support me through all of my troubles. I even have a few faculty members guiding me through this new practice of “adulting.” I recognized that I no longer had to make the drive home because I had a home here. Last year in particular, I needed these people to help me through this hard time and from study buddies to simple words of encouragement. My village took me through a true turning point in my confidence and academic career and, when the time came, I took the next test on with confidence and passed with an A that I once thought was unattainable. Through this experience I learned that asking for help from someone was not at all a taint on my intelligence, but an act of courage.

Fast forward to today and I am still very dependent on my village. All of these people are still extremely important to me, and I know that I can still count on them to lift me up. Even this year my village continues to help me, whether it is a trip to the library, a quick bite in Talley, or just someone to hang out with, I know that I can count on these people to help me with whatever I may need. This year, I’ve needed reassurance more than anything; the adjustment to the new school year is definitely different than the pace of my first year, and I can attribute a lot of my success to those who have continued to encourage me. Yet my village has helped me go above and beyond the simple need for encouragement. I have created a network through those around me, and it has been so influential that this year I received an opportunity to shadow at a general dentistry. As an aspiring pediatric dentist, there is nothing more interesting than standing in on appointments, interacting with patients, and really being able to see the ins and outs of the career I would like to pursue and with the help of my village, I know there is no chance that I will not succeed.

So, as October reins in all of your unwanted stresses about school, I remind you to look for your village. I’m hoping that chemistry won’t take to me as viciously as it did my first semester here, but I know who I can count on to bring me through if it does. In hard times and in times of celebration I invite you to reach out to your village and if you don’t have one, make one! The lessons that you learn and the connections that you will make will last a lifetime. With that being said, rest up and ace those midterms everyone.