I once was a big fish in a little sea and I don’t know how to swim away. I grew up in a very small town where four cars inching along behind a tractor were considered “traffic jams”. Only a few months ago, local grocery store owners and Subway workers were asking me about my college choice. Now, as I walk into Vons in LA, I’m never personally greeted, and it makes me feel insecure. Every day as I walk to class or lay in one of the thousands of identical bunk beds at UCLA, I think about the huge change that has occurred in my life and how unsure it makes me feel.
Since a young age I stood out from the crowd. I was smart. I was athletic. I came from a good family. My parents always told me, “Meghan, you will do big things”. Being from a close-knit farming community only magnified this. My teachers knew me and said I could do anything I wanted in life. Though I enjoyed the seemingly constant string of compliments, being told I was excellent was not beneficial. I was never challenged to my breaking point. I never questioned what was said to me. I thought my intelligence meant I would automatically be successful, with little to no adversity. I was very wrong.
One teacher who didn’t like me once said, “Meghan, you’re just a big fish in a little sea”. Today, challenges scare me, and the rough time I have had thus far makes me think Mrs. Walker was right. I feel as if I must constantly get ahead in order to avoid failure. I make lists, stay obsessively organized, and constantly worry about whether or not I did every homework and reading that was assigned to me. This constant anxiety is the result of growing up in a small town where everything was spoon-fed and easy for me. Now, I’m expected to be independent, a concept that was foreign to me only three months ago. As a result, I struggle with balance. I need stability, but the parents and community members that have stood beside me my entire life are no longer available to fall upon. Will I succeed or will I fail? As of now, I’m not sure. But, I know one thing: I do what I do because I was once a big fish in a little sea, and I’m struggling to swim away.