I have always been drawn towards a solitary life, as I feel protected in my innate and perpetual reclusiveness. I suppose this is the reason I have wanted to be a writer since I was fifteen years old, as I can observe people and things from a spatial and temporal distance while maintaining an introspective life. With this characteristic came my resistance towards any form of immersion into any sought of community. I have always reveled in loneliness and I have never fancied myself as someone who can connect with a larger or smaller community. However, all of this changed during my time at Mcmaster University. I mean, I am still introverted, and I still want to be a writer, but I have also found myself opening up to, connecting with, and being inspired by a community that, four years ago, I would have been happy to shun during my college years.
Come this April, I would be done with my undergraduate degree in Justice, Political Philosophy, and Law at Mcmaster University. To be quite honest, I still cannot believe that I am graduating. I can still remember my first day of university as vividly as though it happened just yesterday. I felt lost, both figuratively and literally. I did not know what building was what and where they were located. I could hear the trod of continually moving footsteps that surrounded me, as I stood still, trying to navigate where I was and where I needed to be. I looked around as vigorously as I could, simultaneously spinning my head and recovering from my dizziness, the overwhelming size of the school, and the enormity of the buildings.
A student representative noticed me in the center of the moving crowd, oblivious to an unprepared freshman. This representative showed me around campus, took me to the bookstore to help me buy all my textbooks, and then walked me to my class. I sat through my first lecture in wonder, not because the material was novel or particularly difficult. In truth, I did not listen to nor hear a word that my professor uttered. I was dazed from observing my peers, the class of students that I would grow with, and learn with, and ultimately cross the finish line with.
As I went home that day, submersed in the poetry of the whispering trees, humming birds, buzzing insects, chattering squirrels, laughing and nervous students, I finally came to the realization that I was home. In that first day, I was elevated to a place of connected consciousness, where I began to escape from my absolute reclusiveness, and began to see myself as part of a group, part of a class (the awesome class of 2015), and part of a wider community that was waiting to be explored.
I ponder on what I want for lunch as I approach Dave the hot dog guy who always remembers my usual order- spicy Willy and a can of coke. While preparing my order, he takes the time to laugh with me and talk to me about his day. In a job that is seemingly monotonous and burdensome, I always catch him with a smile on his face and words in his mouth. I collect my order from him and we indulge ourselves in our own personal handshake.
I am sitting down in class and I am surrounded by the most amazing professors in the world who are able to instigate a level of thinking in me that I did not realize was attainable. Even on their busiest days, they are able to redirect the nervousness and undirected frustrations of their students, who would rather me anywhere but in class. The professors that I have met have inspired me to reach deeper into myself, take what I discover within, and disperse this internal knowledge to a wider community that I was previously unmindful of.
Till this date, the best lesson that I have ever received in my school is not from any of my professors, or any of my peers, but from a janitor in my school. It happened during my sophomore year. I was in a period of transition from the Sciences to the Humanities and I felt uneasy about making a choice that I was repeatedly told was an impractical one. The janitor saw me, sitting on the dusty staircase that is usually surrounded by musty air. He sat with me and spoke at length with me about what life truly means and the power of an impractical but fulfilling choice. A lot of people shaped my decision to finally make the transition to the Humanities, but he was the final nudge in that decision, and till this day I cherish the lessons I learnt from him that day. I never saw him again, and believe me I looked for him, but I think he left Mcmaster University, but not my mind, he never left me behind, because his lesson stayed with me to the very end.
Mcmaster University has created an environment for my peers and I that encourage academic instigation, curiosity, and revitalization. But, it has also created an amazing community for all of its students, a symbiotic relationship where the community gives to the students as much as it takes from the students. I truly am going to miss Mcmaster, all of the friends and acquaintances that I have met, and the safety that was bred in our small, amazing, and inclusive community.
But, to my graduating class, and the graduating classes that are going to come after me, do not despair as you have benefited from a privilege that many cannot claim to have had the opportunity to experience. So, no matter what you decide you want to be, whether it is a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, an engineer, a historian, or a writer, do not forget to reinvigorate the community around you, a community that I know shaped and livened your experience at Mcmaster University, a community that I can personally say revived, bolstered, and elevated my humanity.
As for me, well, it would never be that hard to know where I am or where I end up. I would most likely be at home, reading vigorously, writing incessantly, and trying to give back to the community the best way I know how, through words. Yes, some things never change, such as the disposition of a reclusive introvert, with the soul of a writer, who found her voice within the amazingly awesome McMaster community.
This article is dedicated to the amazing class of 2015, all the professors who put up with us, and the Mcmaster University community that taught us about visibility, change, and humanity.