Why is it that when we see friends around campus and they ask how we are, almost all of our default answers involve being "busy but good"? How often do we take the opportunity to actually understand how we are feeling and why we are feeling that way? Maybe we won't reach an answer because even our state emotions are very dynamic, changing minute to minute according to what's going on around us, but we would've at least delved further into ourselves and understood something. We are never feeling nothing. And since when has "busy" been the first word that comes out of everyone's mouth even if it's not true? Here at Duke, we don't want anyone to think that we're falling behind and not doing as much as the next guy because that would apparently mean that our aspirations and goals aren't as high. We must constantly be volunteering or working in the lab or at some sort of meeting or practice otherwise we're not doing enough. I don't like being so busy that I can't focus on myself, so I don't let myself do that. I'm not really that busy lately, and I'm really happy about it, but I feel bad because it's engrained in me that if I am not busy, I'm doing something wrong. It's really difficult to deal with, the distinction between what you know you should be doing, what you want to do, and what you are doing.

I am changing. Am I becoming the person that I was meant to be or am I losing the person that I am? Who tells me what is true and what is right? Who is right? I recently was thinking about this distinction that I mentioned: between who I'm supposed to be, who I want to be and who I am. I'm not completely happy with the person that I am right now; there's a lot of things about me that have changed since high school and I don't know if they've made me more of the person that I'm supposed to be or making me lose the person that I was. I don't know which one was better, because I'm not completely happy with either of them. Saying that there's a version of me that I'm supposed to be implies that I believe in something like fate or destiny but I don't really; it's more interior/exterior expectations of me that compose that version. It's really difficult to know what I want myself to be and how to alter who I am to match that. I guess what I'm saying is, it's hard to draw lines between these things and decide what is important to you truly.

In high school I used to be someone who was nice to everyone, helped you with your homework, trusted people easily, put academics ahead of social life often, so on and so forth. If you asked people, they would tell you that I was "nice." Not that I'm not a lot of these things still, something has changed. I've become more cynical, skeptical, more careful in trusting others with my emotions. I've become judgmental. I've learned more about life and people and applied that to the way that I interact with my surroundings and others. I don't think they would call me the same flavor of "nice" I was in high school, and I really miss that. Not the praise, not the words, just the attitude that I had toward others and that others realized it. Which one is right? It is good to go into any friendship thinking the best of the person, giving the benefit of the doubt, but do we not soon start questioning motives once things go astray? We understand a lot more and so we also have learned how to manipulate others, which I will not let happen to me another time. I miss being just "nice." Yes, a lot of good things have come out of becoming older like maturity, confidence, knowledge, understanding, love, and an ability to build deeper connections than we once could, but sometimes innocence is the thing that I miss most.

Not innocence in the sense of a lack of awareness, but innocence in the sense of not giving into the vulgarity that comes with entering your 20s. Not that I have overly or anything, but I've slipped for sure. I don't think naivete is a good thing, because it's better you know what's going on in the world as you get older than to ignore it, but is thinking this way something that is me or did my circumstances make me this way? Is it the same thing?

There's something that I really hate about myself that for some reason I can't seem to change. I'll sit on the bus, at Grace's, in class, with my headphones in or looking down at a book or my phone and a natural frown on my face. Of course people don't feel a person like that is approachable, it's like a warning sign that I don't want to be spoken to. But it's not true. I really want to meet and talk to new people on the bus and in class, and I don't know if it's an introvert thing or a Sonal thing that I act like this. When someone does reach out or I see someone I know, I can break out of that shell instantly, but it's like there's a barrier between these two states that is self-impenetrable. How do I get through it? I want to be approachable, more outwardly open, because I feel like that inside but I don't know how to do it. I don't want not to be disturbed, but I guess better occupy myself than look alone I suppose. Is this how everyone feels? All I need to do is put a smile on my face, make eye contact with people, and everyone's day would be a little brighter. It's not so hard... so why is it so hard?

I'm confident. I'm not a prude anymore, not that I was ever even mildly ashamed of it. I want to be a doctor, but I'm really afraid of all the years I won't be making money. I want to have a stable life with a family. My grades and future mean a lot, but I also want to live in the moment. I like forming close relationships with people. I'm still nice, it's just the activation energy that's difficult to cross. It's hard to keep straight what is you and what is your friends' influence within you. How do we change what we're not happy with and should we even? I wish it were that easy.

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