In my opinion, junior year was by far the most challenging yet. The academic pressure, the strains on friendships, the crunch and reminder of time—everything just seemed a bit more intense than the two previous years, and I hope this was not an omen for next year. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am certain that the final year may just present itself as a circumnavigated route back to the first. Everything from freshmen year—the friends, the nostalgia, the fresh innocence—will reveal itself one last time.
When my freshmen began to move out of Yates I sent them a letter as somewhat of a farewell token, and I hope that each of them take the bits of advice to heart. Some of the letter is below:
And this is the important thing: no matter how troublesome the world around us seems, we have to find time for camaraderie and laughter. College is not just about getting good grades and joining organizations/clubs/fraternities. The relationships you build with those around you are much more lasting than a measly paper or quiz. Do not let the red tape of academia blind or bind you.
College is also about being a mess. It’s about getting the wind kicked out of your lungs, because, as Sarah Kay says, that’s the only way for our lungs to really know how much we enjoy air. So don’t be afraid to make mistakes, to cut your elbows and knees, to stray from the path and forge a trail (Ralph Waldo Emerson).
And let’s realize that shame is not the same as guilt. Shame is the painful feeling caused by the consciousness of wrong and right behavior. Those without shame are those without the capacity for emotion and empathy. I hope that each of you never restrain yourself from your goals and desires; face your fears. Dr. Brene Brown says that, “vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage.” There is nothing wrong with vulnerability. Yes, it’s uncomfortable and somewhat terrifying to expose ourselves before others or the fears that laugh. But is there nothing more fulfilling with the strengthened heart? Because that’s the only true gem of laughter, friendship, family.
When it was my turn to move out, I was going through all of my folders and drawers and I came across a few photos from my own freshman year. These photos of my then comrades and myself are bittersweet because some friendships have dissolved, some faces blurred, but I am thankful for the moments I shared with each of them. I am also hopeful that, yes, perhaps the final year will expose the first year for the better.