As the school year starts rapidly coming to an end, I'm forced to think about what's next. I must mentally prepare to spend next semester away from Tufts, studying abroad, and prepare to return just in time to watch some of my closest friends graduate. Meanwhile, I am wholly unprepared to watch many more graduate weeks from now. Times like these remind me that college is, at its core, a continuum.
We move through the school year feeling the same as always, like nothing's changed. And then, suddenly, it's over and we reflect, noticing for the first time how vastly differently things are from how they used to be. It is amazing how much can change in one year, how much we can do in one year. With this, I ask you the same question that I have been trying, myself, to answer: what have you done with your life this year?
This year, I learned a lot, both about myself and about the people around me. I learned that feelings can be complicated and that we all need to get out of our own heads a little bit. I learned that I'm not always a nice person. But mostly significantly, I learned that we are all incredible, regenerative beings. We are constantly running headlong into obstacles, falling down, and somehow getting up, growing anew that which has been broken or burned. This school year led me to brilliant people, people who have suffered and surmounted overwhelming obstacles like heartbreak, fear, and self-doubt, as well as to people who, like me, are still getting there.
I am reminded of this in light of my recent sorority formal. It was there, under the fluorescent pink and purple lights of a flamboyant Boston nightclub, that I realized just how many of those brilliant people I am lucky enough to have met this year. I never thought that, as a sophomore, I would still be making new friends and meeting people who amaze me with their kindness, their intelligence, and their openness. I have never met so many well-adjusted, successful people who can openly admit to being afraid or insecure or maybe not so well adjusted after all. Above all else, Tufts is an open place. It is a place where you can join a club midway through your sophomore year and feel completely at home by semester's end. It is a place where people want to know what you think about, what you worry about, and what you don't know what to do about. It is the only place where I can run barefoot from a frat house in a cocktail dress to catch the second half of a loosely-choreographed dance show and feel casual about it.
I know that "Tufts people," people like this must exist out in the world; everyone is afraid and everyone has insecurities. But what I value most about the people I have met here, especially this year, is the effect that their openness has had on me. They have shown me that it is okay be messy, to make mistakes, and to ask for forgiveness. They have taught me that it's okay to be a little crazy. Last weekend, for instance, I attended a 'Great Catsby' themed party. I walked from one end of campus to the other clad entirely in a gold-sequined dress and cat whiskers. I bumped into a friend who stopped and told me I looked "fab." Only Tufts. Only at Tufts can the ridiculous, the childish, also be fabulous. Correction: only at Tufts can we look past the ridiculous and see the fabulous that has always been there, within us all, buried beneath the "normal" and the "conventional."
One of my best friends always asks me why I so resist being called "trendy," and I think it's because I grew up in an environment where the trendy kids were also the mean, "popular" kids. My gut reaction is to stay as far away from labels that associate me with the bullies of my childhood, labels that disassociate me from the Tufts kids, who don't need to be trendy in order to be popular. In fact, the popular kids at Tufts are the nice kids, the funny kids, and the bold kids. You know these kids and so do I. I spent this school year meeting all kinds of popular kids, kids who do absolutely everything on campus and still have time to grab a meal with a friend. I found them working in coffee shops, at house parties, in club meetings, and in classes.
That is what I did with my life this year. I met incredible people in unexpected places who made me realize, in the wise words of hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd, "I ain't got no type // bad b*tches are the only thing I like." Prophetic words, I know. Nonetheless, they are -- frighteningly -- not entirely untrue. I have gravitated towards all kinds of different people this year who have who have taught me that normal is boring and that I don't want to be a "type." I want to be a bad b*tch. Or something like that...
In all seriousness, I have been deeply affected by every single person I have met this year. I have been dazzled and I have been made to grow, if just a teeny, tiny bit. And for that, Tufts, I thank you. You have taught me that that there is no limit to the number of remarkable people I can meet because there is no shortage of people and there is no shortage of time. It is never too late to meet someone, to meet someone new. Or to meet someone again, to put things back together. To regenerate.