My last piece in this column, “Why I Won’t Ever Change My Last Name” caused a bit of a stir. While I knew the topic might be seen as controversial, I never expected the response that I got. Some felt offended by the piece and interpreted my words as “condemning” all married women who changed their last name. I’d like to make it clear that this was not the purpose of the piece, nor is this my view on women who partake in the practice. My intended purpose was actually to just create discussion on a tradition that is solely based in habit.

Still, I wondered why exactly people cared so much about this article. Why did people care about me, one unimportant person, deciding to not take part in a social norm? Why did it elicit the response it did? I realized that certain people may have felt my opinion personally attacked their values, or perhaps personally attacked them, just because my view differed from theirs so greatly. And though I find this to be silly, I too am very often guilty of it.

After reading some of the negative comments, I began to second guess myself. Perhaps I am wrong. Maybe I should reconsider my values. I became truly bothered. For years, I’d been pretty steadfast in my view. Yet, all it took were a few disagreements and I was doubting myself. Why? Because I felt threatened, maybe even a little stupid. I wondered if I even really knew myself, if I actually knew what I wanted.

However, this isn’t the first time I’ve been criticized, and it won’t be the last. At least, I hope it won’t be because I mature so much as a result of criticism.

When I came to Georgetown, I realized how different I am from a lot of kids who go here. I’m just a chubby black girl from Alabama who doesn’t carry a Longchamp bag, whose backpack is from Wal-Mart, not Herschel, and whose father is not a businessman, lawyer or doctor.

Again, I began to second guess myself. Could I ever fit in? Was I good enough to be here? Did I belong?

It took me a while, but now I’m okay with myself. Actually, I’m not just okay with myself. I’m happy because I don’t need to be any other way. This is my story, and changing it would be changing who I am.

So, I’m realizing that I don’t need to be afraid of divergence. I know that diversity is a beautiful thing, and that it comes in many different forms ranging from differing nationalities to contrasting political views.

When people disagree with me, I don’t need to cower or nor do I need to become angry because their critiques either help me to reaffirm my beliefs or instead introduce to me a concept I’d never even considered before.

After being at Georgetown for almost an entire semester, I now understand why so many family members have had a hard time leaving home. If I had stayed in Birmingham, it would have been familiar and easy. However, it would have also been predictable.

Being at Georgetown has been a challenge for me, and, at times, it has been uncomfortable. But I am learning to be comfortable with the uncomfortable because I know that is when I evolve the most as an individual.

I definitely made the right choice in coming here because I’ve been exposed to so much, to people and places I would have never discovered if I had decided to rest in the safety of my hometown.

This world is a big and scary place with lots of big and scary people who are nothing like me. And that’s both frightening and exhilarating. I’m grateful that there’s such a place for me to explore; grateful that I haven’t seen it all yet.

There will definitely be more times when I will have my feelings hurt. There will be times when I want to get on the fastest plane back to Alabama, back to the place that I know will be accepting of me always, and I am appreciative of the fact that such an environment exists.

However, I also know that the moment I do that is the moment I cheat myself of something great. So I won’t let fear or doubt or anything else dissuade me. I will continue to advance and develop myself, and even if it’s painful sometimes, I won’t stop because I came to college to do one thing: grow.

Jasmine White is a freshman in the College. ’Bama Rogue appears every other Friday.

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