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Authentic Eagles: Terry Gelsi on Taking Chances

As Boston College students, it can be tempting to hide our true selves. Embracing our individuality  can help us to understand ourselves and experience the world around us as genuinely as possible. Authentic Eagles is a series that gives a voice to the people who have experienced firsthand the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of being one’s authentic self at BC. We hope that readers are inspired to have conversations and reflections of their own, working towards being more authentic individuals.

Terry Gelsi, A&S '15

Regret. It’s a heavy word. It’s the gut-wrenching feeling of knowing you had a chance, but you didn’t take it. Looking back on the past four years, I recognize how far I’ve come, how much I’ve grown as a person. And yet, I feel twinges of regret over the opportunities I missed as a result of my own insecurities.

I came to BC my freshman year feeling liberated. I was finally free from the suffocating small town high school I knew too well, and was ready to reinvent myself. In high school, I had a good group of friends, was involved in music, theater, and sports, but I still felt so small. Mean comments from fellow students throughout middle and high school shook my confidence, and I became someone who stuck to what she knew, never taking risks for fear of being ridiculed.

I became an expert at unrequited love, never acting on my feelings for the guy I had a crush on for years, instead watching as he flirted with other girls left and right. I truly felt I didn’t stand a chance and feared the torment that would come with rejection and the snide comments from classmates that would inevitably follow as soon as word got around. So I stood on the sidelines as he went on living his life, oblivious to me entirely. By graduation day senior year, I was emotionally spent. I knew something had to change if I actually wanted to live a full, active life.

Finally, I was headed somewhere new, where I could be whoever I wanted to be, and no one would know the difference. I could be confident, adventurous, fearless. I vowed I would take my life by the reins and really be in control of my destiny.

Old habits, as they say, die hard. This new environment, which I imagined would be freeing, was indeed that, but it was also terrifying. My first few weeks of freshman year, I pretended to have it all figured out, but I didn’t. I realized that my years of pining had done me no good; I was terrified of talking to boys, and I was stunned when any member of the opposite sex was nice to me, as it was not something I was used to. I made new friends, went out, and had fun, but I still felt anxiety about who I wanted to be in college. Even more than that, I feared I did not have it within me to be that confident girl I dreamed of being.

So I went back to what I knew: music. When all else failed in my life, music had always been my saving grace, the one thing I knew I was good at and that brought me peace. I auditioned for several a cappella groups, and ended up at the Dynamics callbacks. I walked into the audition room, closed my eyes, and began to sing. Suddenly, I was the person I dreamed of being. I felt like I could do anything, and nothing that anyone else could say or do would break me. But then, I was forced to float back down to earth. The group took two new members, and I was not one of them. I felt defeated. The one thing that had always taken away my pain was now causing it, and I was questioning everything. I had taken a risk, and the result was the exact opposite of what I wanted.

Spring semester of my freshman year, I gathered the courage to audition again. Though I feared another rejection, I knew I would never forgive myself if I didn’t take the risk. I auditioned, and this time, a loud banging on my door altered the course of my BC career and my life. Now, I shudder to think what would have become of me had I not re-auditioned. My life has been so enriched by the music we have made, and even more so by the incredible lifelong friendships I have forged as a result of this group. My BC experience is defined by the Dynamics, and I am so grateful for that.

However, there are other risks I didn’t take. I am an aspiring journalist, yet I never got involved with any writing publications on campus. I can make a laundry list of excuses for why I never joined; I was too busy at the time, I wasn’t sure I could commit to meetings, I was afraid of being the worst writer or of being looked down upon for trying to join during my junior or senior year. Excuses may work to minimize guilt in the short term, but in the long run, I have found myself sincerely regretting making excuses. Now, I have to live with this regret, and hope that I don’t let my future ambitions take a backseat ever again.

As graduation day looms, I am grateful for both my successes and failures in risk-taking. I resolve for the rest of my time at BC and for the rest of my life to not let fears or insecurities hold me back from something that is important to me. I will put myself out there and strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. I will set high goals for myself that I never thought I could accomplish. I will live every day I have left at BC with the knowledge that these four years fly by way too fast. As my mother always reminds me, never again will I be surrounded by so many people of your same age, intellect, and with shared interests, so I plan to take advantage of that for as long as I can. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that fear is a waste of time.


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