Like many Penn students, I was involved in multiple extracurricular activities in high school. When I came to Penn, I expected to somewhat do the same, but also try some different activities as well. However, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of applications that I needed to do to even participate in club activities. Most of all, I felt a feeling of inadequacy when comparing myself to other students who had already done an array of fabulous and formidable ventures, especially in the arts. I ended up joining a bunch of literary magazines and copyediting opportunities as a freshman — things that I was already used to and knew that I could do well in. Being a prospective English major, I initially thought the best work I could do was in journalism and magazine (little did I know how much I hated that work).
As a senior now, I am not involved with any of the activities that I did as a freshman. It’s strange to think of how many random things I joined, applied, got rejected, and dropped silently throughout the past three years. Some people might criticize me for not being committed, but really, I jumped around so much because I sought out for passions that felt both new and distinct from what I’ve usually been engaged with. Fast forward to now: I’ve just completed directing a modern adaptation of the Greek tragedy Antigone for PenNaatak, a Penn Theatre group focused on global, contemporary issues. I didn’t expect myself to delve so deeply into theatre in college. One random audition for a play the end of my freshman year led to an opportunity to perform, write a play, and now, direct. These serendipitous incidents have formed my core passion for theatre and have taught me how much I need to be open-minded and spontaneous about my growing interests.
Advice to prospective students: you don’t have to stick with what you’ve done in high school. Penn has so many niches and opportunities to do things that you may have never expected to have fun with. I never thought playwriting would become such a core passion of mine, and I can’t imagine what my life at Penn would’ve been like if I had not spontaneously entered that audition room. Be experimental — this is the time for it.