In 2018, I was riding the Aggie Spirit bus on the way to tour on-campus apartments when I noticed a girl sitting adjacent to me wearing an Aggie ring. I remember thinking, “That day is leaps and bounds away for me.” Yet, here I am, experiencing the landmark Aggie tradition I never thought would happen.
I have dreamt of becoming an Aggie since I was a little girl. Specifically, all it took was one game at Kyle Field that sealed the deal, and from that moment on, I knew I would be an Aggie. But that wouldn’t be the entire story. I have a long history of Texas A&M in my blood. Our family tradition was born with my great-grandfather, who was Head Yell Leader in 1934. I stand proudly as a fourth-generation Aggie, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. As the saying goes, “From the inside looking out, you can’t explain it,” and that rings true. Many people don’t understand the Aggie family, but I know to my core that this will forever be my home.
It wasn’t an easy journey to say the least, getting to where I am now.
My freshman year was one of the hardest periods I have ever experienced. I suddenly went from a near-perfect high school student to a college freshman who couldn’t for the life of her pass MATH 141 (I ended up taking it three times — thank you, Blinn). I quickly lost the one part of my identity that I believed to be solid: my grades. Soon after, I grappled with the loss of my own self. For most of my life, I have danced with depression, but in college, I was met with a ball. Nothing could have prepared me for the destruction that awaited me in college. To put it plainly, my freshman year was miserable. Comparatively, I had just got into a phenomenal organization with brand-new friends. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect situation, but that’s the thing about depression, it can turn off even the brightest lights.
My struggles in college continued into my sophomore year. By that point, my GPA was a laughing-stock. The once picturesque student met the opposite end of the spectrum, and I didn’t even care. My parents were heartbroken at what seemed like a perfectly happy daughter soaking in her college experience. My grades were deplorable, and my light was out. I often considered dropping out. I saw no end to my dark tunnel and few reasons to continue my time at A&M.
But that’s the thing about college: It’s hard, and (sometimes) you manage to drudge on.
I’d hardly consider myself a strong person, but I’d categorize what I overcame as nothing short of impressive. I somehow did what I never thought I could do, and that was to stand up tall again. I accepted the things I couldn’t change and focused on what I could create anew. It wasn’t easy, and I’m still grappling with the negatives. But hey, I’m still here, and maybe as you’re reading this, I will have a slightly heavier hand and a lighter heart.
I look forward to looking down at my ring and recognizing (and even appreciating) all that it took for me to receive it.
For those of you who may not know, there are five stars on the ring that symbolize the development of an Aggie: mind, body, spiritual attainment, emotional poise and integrity of character. In the center sits an eagle that represents the ability to reach any height and ambition. I will look at these elements and beam with pride, simply because it rings true: I achieved what I didn’t think I could do.
To my professors who supported me through those tough times, to my best friends who pushed me to succeed, to my family who taught me that I can accomplish anything and everything, I thank you. To all of you who knowingly or unknowingly helped me believe in myself, thank you.
But most importantly, to me. I did it.
Kaelin Connor is a psychology junior and opinion writer for The Battalion.