I don’t know why I let it get to me. But I did. I stood in the mirror evaluating myself more harshly than I had in a long time. My roots are showing, my eyes are red, my face is pale and my sports bra warily sticks out under my baggy jacket. Was it true? Were the four girls I had formally been close friends with right about me? I used to share clothes, tag pictures, and take road trips with this group, and now they awkwardly nodded toward me in the Silvergreens line, unsure of whether to bolt the other direction or stick out the discomfort. The stare off into the distance after a quick “hey” won over, and as I grabbed my potato cheddar and scrammed for the door I heard them.

“She’s… weird now”

“Ya like she’s kind of a loser.”

What?! I knew the idea had fluttered past me before, but that’s when it really hit me — I am. I am an accidental loser. In a socially bound bubble that I have come to call home for almost four years now, I somehow am a connotative outcast. Don’t ask me how it happened. Personally I think my jokes are on point, my backpack isn’t on wheels and for the most part, I’m pretty well aware of the do’s and don’t’s of everyday interactions. However, I know that my first five quarters or so at UCSB matched up a little higher on the “cool” scale. My time was spent gabbing in the back row of lecture hall, getting the “What are you doing tonight?” text by 2 p.m., and taking part in more than my fair share of the debauchery of Isla Vista. In other words, where I had some choice social moments, I by no means was classified as a loser.

I got tired, though. My body wore out, my instincts wavered and my mind was all over the place. I wanted more out of college and I knew if I didn’t take control, I would miss the experience I yearned for altogether. So my priorities shifted.

I began to find positive outlets in new activities, go to bed earlier and wake up before sunrise, visit my professors’ office hours just to chat, and eventually, work my way toward my dream job. It’s been invigorating. I feel revamped, smarter and healthier, but I certainly don’t feel uncool.

My lifestyle is no better than anyone else’s. It just provides me with things that I had chosen to neglect before. My outlook and goals have changed, but I still reside in my individuality. My character exists for those who have not turned a cold, “cool” eye on me, and what is “weird” to many is worth it for me.

So no, nobody texts me to ask what I am doing at night. Many old friends pretend to stare at an imaginary dot that is slightly above and to the left of my head when they pass me and I haven’t been to a college party in quite some time. On the surface, I guess I can see how “loser” may spring to mind. But I haven’t lost much. I have friends — ones that have stuck by me since my first footsteps at UCSB.

I have good vibes at work and respect from my professors and classmates. If that makes me a loser, I’ll take it. I miss the four Silvergreens girls and the friends and lifestyle attached to them, but for me, it is no longer a piece of my puzzle. I have no ill feelings toward those who I only now have memories of, but I enjoy the positive energy that all the wonderful people in my life surround me with today.

Glancing back at the mirror under my critical eye, I see ambition behind my red eyes, happiness under my pale skin and strength beneath my baggy jacket. I’m still here. I’m still me. I never meant to be a loser, but hey, accidents happen.