Wake up and smell the coffee

October 23, 2013
The Experience, CJ Robinson '16  |  The Experience, On Campus

I hated open house in high school. Mom always had to come with me to all the classes I really didn’t want her at, and it was super boring. All I can think of is disgusting stale cookies, and cold coffee. Things have changed… at Connecticut College’s open house this year, I was chosen by the admission office to give an opening address.

So I sat down and wrote my speech, corrected the grammar, and asked my best friend to read it a couple times before I sent it back to the admission office. After a short time, I got a very calm reply from them asking for me to come in and talk about my speech. I had a very eye-opening conversation: “It wasn’t me,” they said. I had written a story that was out of my character, and had a lack of my personal charisma. I wasn’t surprised. I had lied to myself. They asked me a couple questions about my experiences to pick at my brain, and I began to talk. I spoke of love, laughter, happiness, all my friends, and the tears began to flow. I had written my speech in real time.

I didn’t immediately write what was the second, revised edition of my speech. I waited a while for the emotions to cool, and I began again, this time alone. I didn't ask my best friend to read it for me, but instead I read it to her. I had to trust myself that what I had written was my voice.

All weekend, I read my speech over and over to myself to draw out my tears, and make sure I didn’t cry on that stage. The last thing I wanted was pity from the crowd of parents and prospective students with whom I wanted to connect in a much deeper way.

By Monday morning I was ready to speak. I was very nervous leading up to the moment of performance, but I know it didn’t show during the speech. To get myself through it I just imagined no one was in the crowd. I just wanted to get on that stage and tell my Conn Coll story. I’m not perfect. I’m no superstar. I learned a lot about myself, how I deal with my emotions, but most importantly, I learned that open house now means something else to me; even if the cookies aren't great.

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