Duke is my friend, and I proudly claim Duke as my most clever and famous friend. It’s known by scholars, researchers, teachers, the owner of the Mexican restaurant in your hometown, the teen you’re waiting behind in line at the amusement park, and the person who is grooming your dog every month.
Like many others, Duke was my dream school. It was the school I prayed to be accepted to and cried when I was. To me, Duke had it all. By the time August 2021 rolled around, I was eager to turn Duke from a stranger to a friend. Quickly, I realized the extent of what this unfamiliar friendship meant.
I learned that Duke has a lot of friends. While the different strengths and interests of Duke’s friends are some of the things I love most about this school, they are also some of its most intimidating characteristics. Additionally, there is one thing that all the friends seem to have in common: intelligence. Everyone is brilliant.
Brilliance is often measured in numbers on Duke’s campus. Whether through test scores, amount of credits taken per semester, the number of extracurriculars you participate in, numbers often lead to direct comparison between each of Duke’s friends. The pressure to compete with Duke’s other friends is something that all students have felt. Competition is healthy, until it’s not.
It’s easy to question my own brilliance in this environment. Every time I become excited about planting my own seeds, I look around and see that someone else’s tree is already blooming.
But who is to define what brilliance is? Neither Duke nor numbers can solely define this term. Brilliance is multifaceted — it can be recognized, rewarded, and received, but it cannot be measured in one single way. All of Duke’s friends are brilliant in their individual way. Duke sees your brilliance and begs you to use it. Duke creates a family. Each person who has the privilege of getting to call Duke their friend is aware of this. And each individual who is a part of Duke’s family is brilliant. While your brilliance may not equate to those directly around you, Duke befriended you intentionally. Since I realized this, Duke has become my best friend.
Sarah is currently a sophomore and @DukeStudents intern. She loves exploring Durham and Chapel Hill for all that they have to offer, primarily seeking out new restaurants and places to explore. In her free time, you can find Sarah creating personal digital content, in a coffee shop, or working out. Sarah enjoys sharing her life and experiences with others and finding ways to connect with and inspire others.