This one's mostly for the freshmen, because all of the upperclassmen have learned this lesson the hard way.

Sad because inadequate
If you go here, chances are this scene plays out in your mind daily.

So you still think you're a big shot because you were your high school's valedictorian? Oh cool, so was everyone else here, and they all had a better speech than you, loser.

Sorry to be so harsh, but this is the biting reality of Harvard. Remember that thing that made you special in high school? Someone (and probably more than one person) is objectively better at it here. Yes, this universal truth can be upsetting. It can disappointing and humiliating. Luckily for you, we came to terms with our own inadequacy a long time ago and have a few tricks up our sleeves to help you.


Say you’re a world class oboe player. Who’s going to call you out? Who even knows what the oboe is?

Develop a new talent

Learn how to make pottery, play polo, write poetry. Warning: you probably won’t even be average at whatever you try, so most likely not worth it. Risk is not your friend when it comes to dealing with insecurities.

Master something obscure

The more esoteric the talent, the fewer people there are to beat you. So perfect your game of tiddlywinks, practice Irish road bowling, put in the hours on the oboe (actually though, what is an oboe?).

Surround yourself with inferior talent

Miss being the best debater in school? Find friends who have never debated and you can maintain your fantasy. Or go to the nearest preschool—you could really give those children the business in just about anything.

Ambition and success are reserved for the few here, and you’re probably not among them. So in the end, your Harvard experience is really what you make of it. You can drown in your insecurity or be brave, put aside your pride, and accept a new lifestyle of mediocrity.