Confidence is the only variable


This month was defined by my relationship with isolation. It started with the first meeting I had with all of the other exchange students in München.

Meeting all of them at once felt a little overwhelming. Granted at the same time: it was probably the most fun I’ve had on the exchange.

I met a lot of different people from different walks of life. There was so much excitement flowing through me. I felt both extreme anxiety and incredible freedom. A whole lot of emotions over that weekend. Confidence was the only variable.

The intense rush of that was followed by two weeks at home, which was a little less exciting. I had a completely different experience.

This time it was the idea of being alone that scared me. And what your mind does in the absence of other people. But, of course, like in any situation, you can choose whether to dwell on those feelings or be productive. Confidence is the only variable.

At school too. I’ve had it both ways: Sometimes I can be the life of the party, and social and exciting. Other times I feel paralyzed by my own perception of other people’s thoughts. Confidence is the only variable.

It’s a familiar problem for me. The “fears” are completely fabricated; the anxiety is all in my head. No one wants to hate you. No one wants you to fail. It’s just you — and what you think of yourself. And moving an ocean away doesn’t change that.

The only thing that can is work; a kind of work that isn’t sexy, and a kind of work that you can’t cheat.

Copenhagen is pretty lit though. There’s a library that looks like a spaceship.


Esten Cooke is on a Rotary International Student Exchange Program in Germany. He is the son of Standard-Radio Post Publisher Ken Cooke and Christine Granados.