After a night downtown, I stumbled back into North House. I saw some friends in the common room and we talked for a while. At around 2 a.m., we all got an email alert warning us of a nearby shooting. The shooter was nowhere near us, but we didn’t know that. So nine people crammed into my room. As soon as we locked the door, I got a call from my friend down the hall. She was terrified.
Instinctively, I ran down the hall to her room. She made me confirm via voice and text that the knock at her door was from a stocky Vandy freshman and not the shooter. I passed the test and she let me inside.
Her room is right by the entrance, so she forced me into her private bathroom and locked the door. We sat in the dark for a while. She turned to me, shaking, and said, between breaths, “This is a different kind of fear. I feel totally powerless.”
And she was right. We couldn’t do anything if a gunman broke through the locks and charged us.
But I knew that the right reaction was just to hug her. She calmed down. She stopped hyperventilating and shaking.
We spent that whole night on the bathroom floor.
And it made me think: I couldn’t choose my circumstance. I was powerless there. But I had the power to change how I dealt with the situation. And that’s what made all the difference.