I spent a good deal of my life terrified of talking to people. It wasn’t all people, just the ones I didn’t know. With them, I was silent, always.
The college classroom made being silent far too easy. There was something about being in a room full of unfamiliar people that made me seal my lips shut.
Each time I considered talking to classmates, every excuse in the book ran through my head.
What if they thought I was annoying for trying to talk to them?
What if I ran out of things to say and the conversation awkwardly fizzled out?
I was just fine with my silence in the classroom. I felt connected outside of school, so I didn’t feel pressured to connect within it.
I wrongly considered my classmates, when it came to community, as unnecessary. They were just people I had to spend two hours a day, twice a week with.
Except my classmates are people I spend two hours a day, twice a week with. They are constants in my life for an entire semester.
For just one of my classes this semester, I will spend approximately 3,520 minutes or 58 hours with my classmates. They are not just people seen in passing.
When I transferred to Fresno State, I found myself spending the majority of my time on campus, where I knew no one, entirely alone. I would go a full day without talking to another person. I felt isolated, like an island in a sea of people. I craved community.
As it turns out, I already had one. I’d just been ignoring it the whole time.
I realized that many of my classmates felt the same way I did. I was walking through college falsely assuming I was the only one on campus who felt like an island.
By ignoring my classmates, I was not only isolating myself but allowing other students to continue their college careers isolated as well.
I met one of my best friends by doing what was once unthinkable. I turned to the person next to me and introduced myself.
I decided to speak because this school and its classrooms are a community and should be treated as one.
Because no one wants to spend their day isolated, without being acknowledged.
Because I am not an island.