As part of the Division of Student Affairs’ initiative for Diversity and Inclusion, we at I Am Rutgers have started the #RUIDProject to highlight the many diverse identities, experiences, and reflections of the Rutgers student body. Students featured in this project share how they choose to identify themselves and how Rutgers either helps them express their identity or has helped shape their identity. If you would like to be featured in this project, share a picture of yourself and how you choose to identify using the hashtag #RUIDProject on Instagram or contact us via email.
Break down. Amend. Rethink. Reconstruct.
You have to be careful when you let insecurities hang around. You grow used to taking the beating you give yourself, and then before you know it, you let the pain take over. When you’re scared all of the time, you trap yourself within boundaries and those confines can be bleak when they begin to close in. But there’s always a stepping-stone. To cross a boundary, you have to take an abrupt shot in the dark; no matter the difficulty you place upon yourself or the denial you hold internally.
Self-expression always came naturally to me through visuals and through sound. Expressing it outwards toward other people, however, never came easy. So growing up I took the thoughts and emotions I couldn’t convey to others and drew them, wrote them, or wailed them out on my guitar until my fingers were worn to the bone. Days, nights, and weekends were all spent devoted to strengthening whatever talents I knew I could grow so I could prove to myself that I could take hold of the dreams and desires I wanted someday. But everything was still internal, and I couldn’t get myself to extend my words and thoughts to other people. It’s one thing to be an introvert, but it’s another thing to hold back what you know you have.
It wasn’t until around my sophomore year of college that I realized I needed to take leaps, not to just go through motions that I knew I could handle. So I accepted as many opportunities as I was offered, and I hunted for as many as I could find. I reached out to many new friends, joined clubs and organizations, got jobs on campus and applied myself where I knew I could. At Mason Gross, I dove into every facet of design I could discover, and used them toward school organizations like The Rutgers Review, the Mason Gross Extension Division and the Student Affairs Marketing Office as well as internships and jobs I got outside of Rutgers. When I offered the gifts I had that I knew others could use, I began to shake off the coat I placed on myself for so many years. Now I know day in and day out that I’m a man of passion, desire and experienced strength.
One thing that hasn’t changed is how I cherish empathy. Hearing others’ stories, remolding yourself and placing yourself in their shoes, no matter who it is, is what keeps me absorbed in life every day. That’s where sound comes in. If there’s one thing I wish I could bring around with me for every step, it would be my guitar, even though I love to the heaven what I study and work for. My guitar is closest to me because I want to some day soon begin to tell these people’s stories, along with my own, not just through words but through the sounds I can create. And if there’s one place that has an abundance of them, it’s through the organizations, classrooms and hidden treasures I’ve found at Rutgers.