To me, becoming a student at Duke University was a gift. Education, financial stability, and freedom to explore any field that I choose is a luxury that most people aren’t given. I feel that I must make the most of every opportunity that’s presented to me – or else I’m dishonoring many and disappointing myself. My ancestors were eastern European Jews who fled persecution and came to the Americas to find a better life. My parents both worked hard to make sure that I had a great childhood. My father came from a childhood of instability, poverty, and violence. He wanted to be an engineer, but had to work to support himself and his family and never was able get a higher education. My parents saved up to make sure that I would be able to attend college, and additional financial aid from Duke allowed me to attend one of the world’s top universities.
My peers have often questioned why I have such unreasonable anxiety if I feel I was granted with great privilege. I think it’s from my desire to honor this gift and a deep belief in my own self-efficacy.
I commit myself to too many activities on campus and I over-analyze every decision I make. I have a hard time being content and dealing with times that I don’t live up to my own standards—I feel like I’m never doing enough. I can’t sleep much on weekdays, and I’m constantly power walking from place to place. I’m so blessed to be flooded with amazing opportunities that I sometimes am unable to find peace in the moment.
I used to see this restlessness as a flaw, but I’m beginning to understand it as another gift. Relaxed people rarely make changes – it’s those are constantly striving for better that have the most impact in the world.