"We are not alone, and we are not failures."

Lisa Lane. Photo credit: Christinia Franusich
Lisa Lane. Photo credit: Christina Franusich

As a STEP UP Leader with VT Engage, Lisa Lane leads weekly service trips including Campus Kitchen deliveries and learns about leadership and social issues through community involvement.

Her three nominators wrote, “Lisa is a member of the cohort committed to mentoring new leaders. At a meeting this semester, this cohort discussed vulnerability and shame at length. Lisa shared about her own difficulties being vulnerable, providing a heartfelt and deeply moving reflection on her struggles. Soon after, Lisa wrote a Facebook post that struck her peers and supervisors as deeply introspective and summed up what was shared at that meeting."

Lisa wrote in her post: “If you ever struggle with comparing yourself to others on social media, I do too. We are not alone and we are not failures. I've thought about writing this post for a while now, and I'm really nervous to share it, but I think it is important.

“Everyone always posts about their successes on social media. I've noticed this a lot with jobs and internships. But this front we put up -- that it is easy and stress-free to find a job -- isn't realistic. Or maybe it is, and I'm the only one who doesn't have a job lined up after graduation yet that I'm excited about. But I think, more likely than not, that other people feel this way, too.”

She continued, “Since we almost never talk about failures publicly, I want to share some of mine. You probably didn't know that freshman year I applied to be a Hokie Camp counselor. I didn't even make it beyond the group interview. I applied to be a TA for a University Studies class. They told me I wasn't confident enough to confiscate a student's cell phone if they were using it in class. I rushed a co-ed service fraternity and didn't get a bid. Every semester, I sign up for 18 credits and end up dropping down to 15, and I'm not even an engineer. On two separate occasions, I volunteered to lead service trips but ended up stepping back to take care of my mental health.

“It's really easy to compare these failures to everyone else's successes and think that I am a failure. But I know that's not true. This post is for anyone else out there who struggles with comparison like I do, for anyone else who wonders why they are the only one failing, for anyone else who is searching for a way to define themselves other than academic and career success.”

Lisa is a senior majoring in International Relations. She is a member of the Honors College and is the recipient of multiple scholarships. The highlight of her college experience has been studying abroad in Switzerland through the Presidential Global Scholars Program.