View from Moosilauke Ravine Lodge
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View of sunset; the sky is an ombre of orange and blue

As a student at Dartmouth College, I often hear about the "Dartmouth narrative." It's the idea that every student has a shared set of experiences and that we're all part of a larger community. While there's some truth to this, I've come to realize that the Dartmouth narrative doesn't really exist. Each student's experience here is unique, and it's up to us to make this place our own.

When I first arrived at Dartmouth, I felt a lot of pressure to fit into certain molds. I do enjoy the outdoors to some degree, but I wouldn't call myself outdoorsy. I used to dance competitively, but I'm not in a dance group on campus. I love singing, but I didn't pursue joining an acapella group on campus. In some ways, I could embody things that would be considered mainstream. But I quickly realized that I needed some time to reevaluate my comfort zone.

What worked for me was taking a step back, critically thinking about everything I had engaged in thus far and taking ample time to decide which ones to hold onto or to let go. To clarify, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with what constitutes the mainstream. I just wanted to take the time to be intentional with what kind of Dartmouth experience I wanted to have.

I tried out for a bunch of clubs, things I had never dared to pursue before. I also tried out for things I knew I liked. I pursued some, and I let some go. And in doing so, I discovered new interests and found communities that felt more like my own.

View of sunset; the sky is an ombre of orange and blue
Sunset! One of those things about Dartmouth that make me fall in love with this place!
The bottom line is that there's nothing wrong with your comfort zone. Things are comfortable because you enjoy them. However, outside of your comfort zone can also be beautiful in ways you don't even know. After all, things you consider outside of your comfort zone might seem scary merely because it is uncharted territory.

All in all, I started feeling like I belong here when I took the time to intentionally evaluate what works for me at Dartmouth. By that rationale, making Dartmouth my own has been one of the most fulfilling endeavors I have undertaken here thus far. I encourage every student to take the time to figure out what works for them, embrace their comfort zone and to not be afraid to step outside of it at the same time. Because at the end of the day, there is no one Dartmouth narrative. We each have the power to create our own story here.

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