It has been almost two months since I started my time here at Harvard. Before starting, I was apprehensive of how intimidating it would be to be surrounded by all of these incredibly accomplished individuals. Yet this fear was completely wrong – not because the people here aren’t accomplished, but in fact because the people here are more incredible than I could have imagined.
Being around these astounding students, it is easy to experience “Imposter Syndrome,” as so-named by various members of the Harvard faculty. Yet one of my favorite things about being in this environment is how much it has taught me, about myself, about the world, and about what it means to truly be humble.
As a Christian, humility is one of those qualities that are easier said than done. And I will admit, humility was not on the top of my list as I prepared to leave for school. As I am sure many incoming students can relate to, the process of coming here is one through which it is difficult to remain humble. The accolades seem to pour in, from graduating high school to making it to college, especially with the name recognition this school brings.
However, from the very first day, I was reminded what it means to be humbled, and as much as it was terrifying at first, it was also kind of amazing. No matter what you consider yourself to be good at, there will always be someone who is better at that skill – and they are probably in one of your classes. Do you enjoy playing an instrument? Yep, there’s like 10 different prodigies with their own composed pieces. Do you like to cook? Are you good at chemistry? Someone here has already discovered a new compound and used it to synthesize the most amazing macaroni and cheese you have ever tasted.
Being able to admit that you have flaws or that you are not the very best at something is the beginning of humility, and even of true learning. Moreover, it’s the beginning of an entire new outlook on life, one that brings you closer to God. C.S. Lewis once wrote in his book, Mere Christianity, “As long as you are proud, you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”
Although the increasingly cold weather and the psets might get you down, don’t forget to also look up. Personally, as someone who is 5’2”, this isn’t too difficult to do on a daily basis, but every once in a while I remind myself to do so here.
So look up at the trees with their changing leaves, which have been here long before we even knew what Harvard was, and will be here long after. Look up at the professors, who bring a lifetime of experiences to the classroom each day. Look up at your fellow peers, who have already done amazing things and are reaching toward new goals each day. And remember to look up to God, who has made it possible for all of these things, for all of these people, to be in your life. As promised in 1 Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
Marinna Okawa ’20 is a freshman living in Thayer Hall.