When I started university, I wanted people to judge me for who I was, and not based on my past accomplishments. I didn't want to talk about my scholarship because it seemed self-centred. It wouldn't make anyone feel better about themselves, and it just felt uncomfortable to share. I felt like I would bring others down. In fact, I was actually kind of embarrassed to own up to this accomplishment. So, I hid it.
I hid this piece of my identity for over two and a half years.
Since then, I have shifted my perspective... I now realize that I needed to think less about myself and more about the macro impact my inaction could have. If I don't share my story, I may not hurt anybody, but I won't help anybody either. Isn't that the true purpose of this award anyways: to help others?
Although this is still unbelievably nerve-wracking to share, I realized that I care was more about helping the amazing, deserving, qualified people who don't believe they're good enough than I care about other people's opinions of me.
I have learned that when one light shines, the whole room gets brighter. More importantly, by saying nothing, I am perpetuating the problem I faced as an applicant. And thus, I believe that I have a duty to share this with you.
It's true; I am a Chancellor's Scholar. And, I never thought I stood a chance.
My grades aren't high enough.
I'm not involved enough.
Other people are more qualified.
I mean, I was involved, but not THAT involved. I had good grades, but not THAT good.
I distinctly remember saying to my Mom, "Mom, there is NO WAY I could EVER receive a scholarship like that. I haven't changed the world or done anything spectacular. The type of kids that receive big scholarships? I'm not one of them. I may do good things, but I haven't done enough."
I legitimately believed the prerequisite criteria included one of the following:
Working to solve world hunger
Flying to space
Starting a not-for-profit
If you have done any one of those things, that's amazing. I certainly hadn't.
This mindset begs the question, why did I set this impossible standard? Where did I get it from? Who convinced me that I needed to be super-human to stand a chance? Why are there so many other people who believe the same thing?
I think this impossibly high bar is perceived by so many applicants, and current students, since there is virtually no information about who has received a scholarship or what they have done.
It's a big vault of secrecy, which is why so many rumours exist. Maybe it's rumours you heard from a friend or current Queen's student. Maybe it's based on a yconic forum - gosh knows that's what I read (spoiler: they're not accurate). Whatever the reason, this false belief about what it takes to be a scholarship recipient needs to end.
What It Takes
One of close friends remarked this semester, "Well, there are some people you would suspect are on scholarship because of their grades or involvement, but you? You're so normal!"
That's exactly it. I'm not all that different from you. I don't have a perfect GPA and my life is not all together. I have many quirks and according to my sister, I am "VERY weird" (and proud of it).
Over the past three years, I have had the pleasure of meeting many students that have been awarded a scholarship. This is what I have noticed:
We are just like you.
We are not perfect.
We are not super-human.
We make mistakes, have off days, and we don't have it all together.
The one characteristic that is the same across all of us is our uniqueness. Each recipient is unapologetically themselves. They care about making a difference in their community and are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in, no matter how small or large the impact will be. They inspire me to be a better person.
For Potential Applicants
If any of the above resonates with you, I'm going to guess you're considering applying.
I want you to know that you do stand a chance. Stop doubting your grades, your activities, and your impact. Stop doubting yourself. The only people that don't stand a chance are the ones that don't apply.
I know it's a long process, but please, don't let the possibility of not getting it hinder your chances of getting it. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter whether you get it or not. If you fill out that application to the best of your abilities, you can be proud knowing you gave it your all. It is a testament to the type of leader you are.
I am beyond grateful for my scholarship, and for all of the opportunities it has provided. It has helped me worry less about funding my education and working part-time.It has allowed me to get more involved in ComSoc, lead part of QLEAD, and make an impact in the Queen's community at large. Above all else, it has taught me to believe in myself. I hope by sharing my experiences, you will learn to believe in yourself a little bit more too.
You are capable of doing big things. Your achievements matter - no matter how large or small they are. Stop downplaying them because they ARE a big deal.
If you're scared of talking about your accomplishments, I've been there. I was too. I let the fear of offending others hold me back from being my authentic self.
Do you want to know what happened when I started sharing? Life got better. I became more confident in myself and my ability to accomplish bigger things in the future. Contrary to my imagination, the world did not blow up and my friends didn't turn on me. True friends will embrace you and love you for who you are, accomplishments and failures alike.
Confidence is Contagious
I no longer want to hide my accomplishments, and I don't want you to hide yours either. I want you to be proud of who you are and what you have done. I want you to use your story to inspire others. I want you to lift others up with your words and actions - because even the smallest ones have the power to change lives.
It is okay to be proud of yourself. It is okay to share, as long as it is from a place of good faith. Sharing isn't selfish; sharing is caring.
If instead of hiding your story, what if you could use it to inspire others? What if we could share openly and be proud to be ourselves? What if we could spread confidence like wildfire?
When one light shines, the whole room gets brighter.
Use your light to make the world a little brighter.