It was a feeling of gratitude. How grateful I was to find my nerdy self in a community of thinkers, each person I met—each student and each dining hall worker, each librarian and each professor—a new, miraculous world.
I was sitting at one of those big old wood tables with a group of people who I kind-of-sort-of-hoped were becoming my friends.
You worked hard. Your family supported you. Your teacher encouraged you to apply. You had the uncommon grit to push ahead when no one believed in you.
Rumors abound. Sometimes you are given a key to a secret door, or asked to sign a book based on political affiliation, or blindfolded.
There are good reasons to keep secrets. If being out about your gender identity means losing your parents’ support, not talking can be an important choice. If you’re judging a peer’s poetry submission in a small community, it's best not to know who the author is. And if you’re running a competitive comp, or semester-long audition for an organization, keeping your assessment of compers’ abilities from other candidates is an act of kindness.