It’s easy to look back on my time at Stanford and believe it exceeded my expectations.
From watching the sunrise from the top of Half Dome, to meditating in the cactus garden at one in the morning, to living with the most kickass roommates on campus, I undoubtedly have friends and memories that will last a lifetime.
Looking back at my time at Stanford, it has been remarkable four years of my life, but it definitely has not come close to meeting high school Aimee’s expectations — I do not write this with any bitterness, only appreciation.
I came here in 2011 knowing that Stanford was my dream school. It was in California (I could wear my Rainbows every day!) and I was running for the track team (my high school fantasy). I had a plan for my identity. I expected to first and foremost be a student, then an athlete and then a friend.
This largely played out for the first two years despite everything that stood in my way. My stubbornness knew no bounds. There were multiple hospitalizations from athletics, fallouts with friends and often, feelings of powerlessness in my absolute need to stay with the life I had chosen for myself. I obstinately stuck with “the plan,” conflating my expectations of myself with the expectations I thought other people had for me.
But things started to change. Staffing in Larkin was thrown into the mix, as was writing for The Daily. While I tried to helplessly cling to my previous identity, the only one I really knew, I was being pulled in other directions towards things I also loved.
This happened all throughout junior year — the Larkin freshman class of 2017 and my co-staff truly changed me to my core. And to them I owe my vulnerability, my confidence, my ability to let loose and my understanding of the word “turnt.”
But the real moment of change in my Stanford life was when I left the track team and in the process, left behind 20 hours of practice a week, an unwavering routine and a critical part of my identity. But the things with which I have chosen to fill that gaping hole in my life are so much more special to me.
Taking on the role of managing editor of the opinions section easily filled those empty 20 hours a week and I do not regret sacrificing that newly earned free time for a second. Being behind the scenes, I have so deeply felt the ardor in every single person I have helped publish in The Daily. Throughout 2015, the opinions section has made it very clear that apathy is quickly diminishing on campus and I am forever grateful to have been a part of that. Working with all of the impassioned students, alumni and faculty to fill the newspaper with content every single night has been an honor.
This experience that is now the dearest to me was never in “the plan.” My freshman year, I would have shied away from it, and even this year, I have questioned my decision. But in my final work for The Daily, as I am about to graduate from my dream school, I know I made the right choice.
It is clear to me that I was once terrified of change. I am still scared — scared of budgeting, of house hunting and of losing some of the dearest friends I have found here. But my last two years at Stanford have shown me that the only way to find true peace with yourself is by embracing change.
So no, Stanford did not meet my expectations. I am not about to embark on a career of professional running, I am not a CS prodigy, and I no longer get nine hours of sleep every night. I’ve found that sometimes we need life to not go according to plan so that we can let go of control and see what life has to offer. And I am perfectly content with that.
Aimee Grace Fox Trujillo
Contact Aimee Trujillo at aimeet ‘at’ stanford.edu.