Advice and reflections

Well, the time has come for me to write my last opinion piece. I struggled thinking about what to write, because this is kind of an overwhelming thing. What wise, kind, poignant words do I want to write for my last opinion piece, and for one of my last ever pieces for the Echo? I thought about expressing my thoughts on a current event and relating it to the bigger picture of graduating. I thought about giving advice to all of you and pretending to be wiser than I actually am; I’m 22 and starting grad school in Manhattan in the fall. I really don’t think I’m equipped to wax poetic about finding yourself and believing it will all work out (although it will). So, what I decided to do instead was to go through all of my Opinions articles from the past four years, take excerpts from them and use them as jumping off points for reflection. Hopefully something in here will resonate with you.

“Instead of smiling all the time, maybe try walking around with a neutral expression. See how it’s received and how you feel about it. Maybe it sucks and you feel out of place. Maybe you feel like a weight has been lifted off of your shoulders. There is a stigma here against not being happy, and it’s overwhelming; at least it is for me. But, without running the risk of sounding cheesy, one person needs to start fighting the stigma for it to go away.” I wrote this after having recently recovered from what I can now admit was depression during my first year of college. I went home every weekend, and on the days that I wasn’t home, I was on the phone with a family member crying more than I wasn’t. I woke up with a pit in my stomach everyday, and I truly wasn’t sure if what I was feeling would ever go away. Three years later, I’ve grown in self-confidence and in my comfort level when it comes to showing my true emotions, and what I’ve noticed more than ever is that people feel the need to perform happiness at this school. Anytime I answer someone’s “How are you doing?” with an “I’m okay”, it’ll more often than not get a response along the lines of, “Just okay?” Why isn’t it okay to be just okay? Why do we have to be “Great!” all the time? Sometimes it’s important to just be okay, and it’s even more important to let others know it. You never know; maybe you’ll inspire someone when they need to hear it most.

“No one really talks about the fact that friends still change and things don’t go perfectly and your social life isn’t just stabilized because you’re not a first-year anymore. It took me learning the hard way to realize that, and maybe you’ll have to, as well. But you shouldn’t have to. So just remember, if things keep changing, embrace it, accept it and keep going.” The beginning of my sophomore year was a weird transition for me, and like in most other cases, I took to the keyboard to gather my thoughts and articulate my feelings. One of my favorite things about Colby is the ability to turn almost anything into a learning experience, and although I’ve experienced many hardships throughout my time here, I’ve also been so fortunate to have endless support in order to turn those hardships into learning opportunities. Some of my most valuable lessons have been outside of the classroom, and I can’t thank Colby enough for providing me with these teachings.

“Don’t fight the spring semester slump that I’m realizing is somewhat inevitable for us all. Don’t give up on academic and extracurricular commitments—what kind of person would I be if I said that?—but at the same time, let yourself enjoy the warm weather after many months of snow and shivering. Spring semester at Colby is the launching point of so many wonderful Colby memories that I can promise you you’ll never forget. Lying out in the sun with a conspicuously alcoholic beverage (if you’re 21+, obviously) can be one of the best things you can do in your time at Colby. So enjoy spring semester at Colby, because it only comes around every so often.” This was in an edition of the Echo in Spring 2014 at a time when I was some of the most in love with Colby I’ve ever been. Because there’s only been one truly nice enough day for a nap on Miller, I wouldn’t say I’m in the spring semester slump, but because graduation looms closer and closer each day, my love for Colby gets stronger and stronger each day, as well. As the nostalgia takes its full hold and my friends and I reflect on the little things we love about this place, I’ve realized that the warm, lazy days of spring are still some of my favorites. I’ll always miss watching Miller Lawn get consistently more crowded as the sun consistently gets stronger, hearing the blend of music from the speakers placed sporadically across the rolling hills, and smelling the sharp scent of the freshly cut grass. The spring here is short, but so, so sweet, and it will forever remain one of my favorite things about this space. It’s so important at a place like Colby, where it’s beyond easy to find all the flaws, to also discover and cherish the tiny things that make Colby special and unique for you so that it stays alive and relevant for as long as possible.

I told you I wouldn’t wax poetic. Sorry. It’s hard not to when I’m leaving the place that has seen the best and the worst of me and has given me more than I can ask for. Whether it was a word, a phrase, or a whole passage that resonated with you, I hope this piece inspired you to embrace this beautiful place for all that it is: for its ups, for its downs, for its highs, for its lows. College only comes around once, so admit your true feelings, learn from hardship, and love the little things; before you know it, it’ll have slipped from your grasp.