Despite the fact that I did not bring a floor-length mirror to college this year, I have a feeling that the next two semesters will bring an unprecedented amount of self-reflection. (Was that a really corny opening? It seems like a typical way to start an article. Maybe it’s both.)
Since it’s the start of the semester, I’ve been meeting with a gaggle of professors to discuss employment and projects. Today I met with one who used to make me nervous. He’s not the only one who did: When I went to office hours or spoke to profs after class, the authority complex would kick in and my confidence would waver. I’d remind myself of their higher status and that I should be as humble and appreciative as possible. Today, when I saw that one prof, he very vocally exclaimed how much “older” I seemed. Twice. His intentions were extremely pure, but it almost felt a bit confrontational… similar to if someone goes over the top when complimenting someone on losing weight, to the extent that they question how they were received “before”.
Anyway, that sort of weakens my next point, but I’ll say it nonetheless: I think that studying abroad gave me a thicker skin. I’ve noticed that my level of social anxiety has plummeted compared to last year.
Finally, it seems that some of the strongest informants of how and how much I’ve changed may be my companions. It must be pretty noticeable!