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Carnegie Mellon stress helps students develop

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Dear Carnegie Mellon,

Up until now, I didn’t think I’d changed at all since high school. I still believe in the same things, make the same lame jokes, forget people’s names, and all that stuff. But actually, Carnegie Mellon, you’ve made me forget what the word “hard” means.

I realized this when some students in Concepts class complained that the homework was too hard because they had to get help on it. My first reaction was to laugh because, duh, you weren’t supposed to know how to do it without help. But not all of them know that. I didn’t when I first came to college.

If I could flash back to freshman year, you would see someone constantly wrestling with feelings of inadequacy.

Every time I couldn’t solve a problem on the problem set, I blamed the professor for making things too hard or blamed my own intelligence. It sucked. I felt small every day.

But somewhere along the way, I realized that you were supposed to need help. If the homework was easy enough that you could just coast by, then you were actually wasting your time, because it’s when things are challenging and you need help or you’re going to die that you end up learning and getting more out of stuff.

As a result, I literally don’t see anything as “hard” anymore. If anything, it’s “doable,” and the idea that every problem you could ever come across is doable is a comforting idea. I have to thank you, Carnegie Mellon, for constantly making me do things that I don’t immediately understand because I no longer see uncertainty as a measure of my intelligence, but rather of my initiative.

TL;DR: By making me feel stupid, I don’t feel stupid anymore.