The first thing people notice about Meghann Gottfried, student, is her confidence. Even sporting a messy ponytail of dark brown hair, no makeup on her freckled face and a plain T-Shirt and shorts, Gottfried’s confidence is evident in the comfortable way she speaks and moves.
This may be because of the pride she takes in herself as a person — a person that she hasn’t always been.
“If I’m being completely honest — and you might laugh at this — I would say that so far in my life, I’m most proud of who I am,” Gottfried said. “I think that I’ve become a very selfless person. I do a lot of things out of pure love. I put everyone before myself. I didn’t use to be very nice, but I think I removed myself from a group of mean, hateful people. Surrounding yourself with the right people is key. I don’t have any monumental things that I’ve done in my life, but I’m proud of myself and the person I’ve become.”
Two years ago, Gottfried was attending Shawnee Mission Northwest, where she met the group of people she eventually grew apart from and decided to pursue teaching as a career. Last year, particularly after enrolling in an Intro to Teaching class, Gottfried decided that that profession wasn’t for her. At that time, her best friend since seventh grade, Elizabeth Drummond, had moved away to college at The University of Missouri, and Gottfried fell into deep confusion about what she wanted to do with the future.
“This past year, I had a pretty bad phase,” Gottfried said. “I wanted to drop out of college, I wanted to move to Florida to become a bartender. I had no idea what I was doing. It’s when I realized that I didn’t want to be a teacher anymore, and I didn’t want to work at a desk, I didn’t want a 9 to 5 job that I’d hate. I just wanted to do something that I’ll love. But I just had to tell myself — it is what it is. Life is going to hit you in the face and you’ve just got to let it sometimes.”
That mantra is something Gottfried lives by, if in an altered form. “It is what it is,” she says, is the cleaner way to say what she really means: “f*** it.” Gottfried got that phrase tattooed under her arm in Arabic — she originally wanted to do it outright in English but decided it would be “too tacky.” Drummond attributes this mantra, and Gottfried’s blunt, big-picture perspective, to her best friend’s skill at giving advice.
“Whenever I have any problems or am stressed about anything, she knows exactly what to say,” Drummond said. “She knows how to calm me down. She just says stuff like, ‘dude, you can’t control that stuff. Just calm down — that’s life, and you just have to move on from it.’ If I’m upset, I can just get into her car and we start rapping and singing and dancing and then I’m fine, regardless of whatever I was stressed about.”
Gottfried’s ability to comfort others won’t be wasted on her future career, as she plans to get a degree in Psychology and become a therapist.
“I want to be a therapist because I love the human mind,” Gottfried said. “I feel like everyone has a story to be heard and everyone needs the option to be heard. I love giving advice and being able to mentally and emotionally help people, because mental and emotional stability to key.”
Drummond attributes Gottfried’s natural desire to help others to the responsibility she was given at a young age: since she could drive at age 14, Gottfried has been taking her siblings home from school, driving them to gymnastics, cooking their dinner, folding their laundry and helping in any other way her parents needed. Having this responsibility, Drummond says, made her friend mature and grow up faster than those around her, which led to her distancing herself from typical high school gossip and choosing to be empathetic and accepting.
“I feel like I have started thinking differently,” Gottfried said. “I never thought about the fact that there are so many people out there with different struggles in their lives, and you never really know what someone is going through. When I get stressed about small things, I think, ‘Why am I so stressed right now?’ There are some people who don’t even know how they’re going to eat tonight, and I’m sitting and stressing over a homework assignment. That’s when you’ve got to tell yourself — it is what it is.”