An imposter among us: a tale of belonging

Photo by Julia Balot Student Publications

Since my first day on campus, I have felt like a bit of a traitor. I came to Tech my sophomore year through the Conditional Arts and Sciences Pathway program. 

This meant that I had to spend my freshman year at another institution and meet a certain GPA requirement before I could come to Tech.

The treasonous part about my Pathway experience was the college I chose to go to before Tech, the University of Georgia (UGA). 

The first year of my college career, all I heard about was how nerdy Tech was and how amazing it was to be a Georgia Bulldog. 

I made some good friends, had fun in the city of Athens and experienced a pretty great football season before March 2020, but even by then, I knew I wanted to leave. 

I never felt like I fully belonged at UGA. I was in a sorority and the Honors College and my classes were fairly easy.

I cycled through countless different clubs in typical freshman fashion. 

I drew on my Judaism, my experience in cross country and interest in student life when choosing which clubs I wanted to try out, and yet none of them felt like a good fit. 

I lived in a different dorm than the rest of my pledge class, I was by far the slowest runner in the running club, I did not have a B’nai Mitzvah or go to Hebrew school. 

It was like I was an outlier everywhere I went. It did not help that UGA was one of my last choices for where I wanted to go to school, but while I was there, I could never get myself to buy into the culture. 

While this naturally did spiral me into an identity crisis, I eventually conceded that UGA was never going to be the place I wanted it to be as long as my dream school was 90 minutes away,
waiting for me to get there. 

Unfortunately, by the time I got to Tech, the pandemic had changed everything about college and life as we knew it, and there were things that I had to miss out on during my first year
here because of it. 

With Greek life off the table for me, virtual meetings for every club I found remotely interesting was what I did to fill my free time. 

Zoom after Zoom, I slowly narrowed down what organizations I wanted to be a part of, even if everything I ever did for them would be through my computer screen.

The unexpected winner of my interest and investment was the Technique, a campus newspaper that to my surprise published actual, physical newspapers. 

At UGA, I had often seen student-published newspapers around campus, but journalism at UGA also had an entire program and quad of buildings, so a newspaper was well within the realm of possibility. 

As a PUBP major, finding corners of liberal arts anywhere I could on campus was ideal. 

Something that I did not encounter at UGA was a student culture seemingly averse to liberal arts, as the majority of UGA students majored in some form of it. 

Being a female liberal arts major who plans to go to law school, I received a lot more confusion and eyebrow raises from students at Tech than those at UGA. At first, this did not fare well for my fear of not fitting in at Tech, and it drove me to places where I could demonstrate the skills
I had gained from my major. 

My major played to my strength of writing, but I was obviously limited in what I was able to actually write about. 

With the Technique, I was given the opportunity to flex my writing skills and discretion for what topics I could focus on. 

The activity alone was enough to keep me writing for the Technique through the end of my quiet sophomore year, hopeful that I would actually meet someone on staff eventually. 

I was luckily not disappointed, as my junior year introduced me to being a member of Technique staff and meeting everyone who only existed to me as names on Slack. 

Our staff on paper might appear disjointed, being made up of people from all different corners of campus, years, identities and, to my pleasant surprise, majors. In fact, the majority of staff to this day are non-liberal arts majors. 

I did not have to feel shame or embarrassment for my role on campus, and I found a spectrum of different personalities to interact with on staff. 

I went from contributing to the news section every week or so to being the Assistant News Editor and spending two nights a week in the office.  

This was the turning point for me. No matter how chaotic my life got, everyone in the office was there for me. 

I actually saw staff members on the weekends; I accidentally incorporated ‘slay’ into everyone’s vocabulary. 

Cheesiest of all, I found a new support system that I had not come even close to finding at UGA. 

I finally found somewhere that I could fit, and it did not have to be because of any specific part of me or my identity. 

My final year at the Technique has been spent in the Sports section, working with an editorial board of members old and new and seeing the culmination of my work at the Technique in my current position as Sports Editor. 

Even with a new office, a new section and a new staff, I feel more at home at the Technique than I do anywhere else on campus, and as I look ahead to graduation, it will be my hardest goodbye.