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On the Outside Looking In

Ana Purchiaroni, C'23

Introduction and Block Party

COVID-19 affected all of us in some way or another. For me, the shutdown took away half of my freshman year and my entire sophomore year.

I have made it to senior year. I am the top dog. The one that every freshman can come to for advice on academics, directions, and whether a professor is a harsh grader or not. However, I find myself being just as confused and disoriented as them, even more so since they are allowed to feel that way and I should not. I ask myself why do I feel like this? Why do I feel so clueless? Where is my big group of friends that I am supposed to carry with me through the rest of my life? All these questions came to one conclusion. The pandemic.  

COVID-19 affected all of us in some way or another. For me, the shutdown took away half of my freshman year and my entire sophomore year. These two years are very important to the social and academic life of a college student. These are the years where you sharpen your social skills, find out your passions, form professional relationships with professors, make friends, and join clubs. By your junior and senior years, it seems you should already have all these things set up and are now maintaining those friendships and honing your academic skills. 

I, however, am still in my sophomore year mentality--still learning to make friends and put myself out there. I have always considered myself an outsider, someone who waits on the sidelines for life to hit them. The 3rd friend who cannot fit on the sidewalk. The person who just nods and smiles during parties. The one who stays home doing homework while everyone else goes out. The one who goes to class and comes back to the dorm immediately, only coming out to eat and leave for breaks.  

I have decided to break the cycle this year. This is my last year at the Mount, and I want to make the most of it. This blog will serve as a diary to document my journey from being an outsider to becoming an insider. I want to share my experience with the whole Mount community and anyone else willing to lend their ears who feels like an outsider themselves. As an introvert, this journey will be no easy task and there will be times I may give up, but as my mom always said, “you have to get back on the horse.” I will document my successes and failures in order to be completely transparent.  

A little bit more about me, my name is Ana Purchiaroni, I am a senior at the Mount and I am studying communications with a concentration in social cultural communications and public relations. The color pink brings me joy only known to a Shiba Inu who smiles with their whole face. I love animated movies like Disney’s “Tangled” and Studio Ghibli’s “Spirited Away.” I am the youngest of three sisters, and I am half Ecuadorian on my mom’s side. Nice to meet you. 

Now for my first small step towards the inside, I decided to go to the Mount’s Block Party after class. Before me was a hodgepodge of several different genres of music blasting, rows of white tables with smiling faces behind them, a whirlwind of people stopping at tables taking a few snacks and moving on. It was a lot to take in, but I blended into the masses and started signing up for every club that I was remotely interested in. After I finished making my rounds, I had a handful of brochures, snacks, and wrappers intertwined in my fingers. This is the point where pre-pandemic Ana would have gone home and taken a break from so much social interaction. However, post-pandemic Ana had other ideas. 

block party at msmuI find that in order to put yourself out there, you must be annoying, or at least you feel like you are being annoying. I stuck by one table, the anime club table, and just stood there talking. Everything in me told me to leave. You’re being so annoying. These people don’t want to talk to you. They have better things to do than talk to you. These thoughts swarmed my mind, but I continued. Pretty soon the people at the table invited me to join them. Suddenly, I was the smiling face behind the table beckoning students to join and chatting with the club officers.  

My days working at the mall during the pandemic and this summer as a waitress, had paid off. I used to see the idea of talking to people as the most terrifying thing ever. What if I am judged? What if they don’t like me? But I am coming to find out that talking to people can be fun sometimes. It’s like a fear of ants or spiders; they are just as scared of you as you are of them. Everyone is trying to fit in and find their place, no matter their age. So, I encourage you to do the same! Smile and wave at someone today, and not that weird : ] single horizontal line smile. Give them an actual smile. Talk to that person in your class. Invite someone to get lunch with you. Okay, honestly, I am not even at that stage yet, but the point is, don’t limit yourself. You never know what could happen. A lifelong friend may be right in front of you.  

This is the start of my journey, and it could be the start of yours as well. Every week I’ll try to pop my head slowly out of my turtle shell until I can fully jump into the ocean and swim with the rest of you.  

Ana Purchiaroni, C'23