Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Sanah Rizvi wants students to realize that being ordinary isn’t so bad in STUDENTx presentation

(Courtesy STUDENTx's Official Facebook)
(Courtesy STUDENTx’s Official Facebook)

Sanah Rizvi is the first to admit that she is just an ordinary person.

Yes, the University of Massachusetts senior with a major in psychology and a minor in biology, who is a residential assistant in Crabtree Hall, a research assistant in a psychology lab examining morality, a teaching assistant for an introductory psychology class, the founder and president of the book club-like student organization The Reader’s Society – which gets together weekly to discuss short stories – and a blogger insists that she’s just an ordinary student.

“I’m very ordinary. I can be lost anywhere in a crowd or hidden in a background,” she said.

To Rizvi, being ordinary is an excellent quality and one that is often overlooked in a society that puts too much pressure on individuals to push themselves to the limit.

“I think the constant influx of the idea of ‘extraordinary individuals’ is making us lose our sense of self,” she said. “We’ve gotten so used to this idea of a resume self that we are losing an idea of an identity of who we are as people and where our strengths lie and where our identities lie, to a point where ordinary has become almost meaningless. Someone would rather be weird or crazy and I don’t see why.

“It is such a beautiful thing to be ordinary.”

It’s a realization the international student from India has had since coming to UMass. She said that her friends always remind her of how involved she is, though she doesn’t see herself as being busy because she enjoys all the things she is a part of. She isn’t doing any of it to build a resume – it’s just who she is.

Rizvi said this is something more students need to realize.

“Maybe we need to remind ourselves that we are okay,” she said. “We’ve gotten so used to being critical or cynical of the world but I think we have started seeing that in ourselves as well.”

But being ordinary is not synonymous with being boring or unimportant, in Rizvi’s mind. In fact, she is adamant that ordinary people do extraordinary things.

“Ordinary people change lives,” she said. “As I say in my talk, ordinary doctors save lives. It’s actually ordinary people who make up the world as it is and it is the extraordinary things about these ordinary people” – like the friendships they make and the experiences they have – that leave a mark on the world.

Being an ordinary person, Rizvi has never taken the stage to express her personal beliefs, as she will do at STUDENTx Thursday night. She has blogged about her views on the world before and has been a part of a debate team, a forum that is much different than STUDENTx because it is structured and more impersonal, she said. Recently, though, Rizvi found the application to present at STUDENTx on Facebook and decided to give it a shot.

When she finishes her talk, she said there is only one thing she wants students to take away from it.

“You do you. That’s it,” she said.

The STUDENTx showcase is being held in the Campus Center auditorium from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday. Admission is free and open to the community.


Anthony Rentsch can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Anthony_Rentsch.

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