October 18, 2011

A Note From Senior Citizens

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Nothing makes you feel older than being a senior. We might seem young, celebrating the less-than-momentous first anniversaries of our 21st birthdays, but sometimes it feels like we’re more suited for shuffleboard than flip cup.  We see all you first years, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and we look at you with a strange combination of nostalgic jealousy and arrogance. Dear Freshmen, we don’t hate you. We used to be you. And sometimes we wish we still were.

My sister just started as a freshman in college, and I feel that the least I can do is impart some of things I’ve learned throughout the years. But this isn’t about time management, reaching out to your teachers or library best practices. This is about having guys as just friends, being spontaneous and sleeping as much as you possibly can.

This is a letter to all of our little brothers and sisters, to the nameless mass of freshmen bodies who have no idea who we are, to those who will be in our shoes in a few short years.

So, here goes: It’s been a few months, and you’ve probably gotten comfortable with your going-out routine. Pregame here, party there, after hours, the usual. But sticking too closely to one microcosm of Cornell is like eating pizza without the crust – yeah, it’s pretty good but you’re missing out on the best part! Break out of your scene. Join clubs that your friends aren’t joining. Take classes that your friends aren’t taking. Do things outside of your comfort zone. Nothing is harder and nothing is more valuable or as rewarding.

Make an effort to turn all of your random acquaintances into friends. Be beer pong partners with the guy from your lab group who you only know by his NetID. Have that weird girl from your high school give you a guided tour of Risley. Go to an event of a club that you’re not active in at all, but too embarrassed to ask to unsubscribe from their list-serv. Crash that architect party on North you heard about from your friend’s house-mate’s TA.  There are a lot of really cool, interesting, amazing people here, laying dormant just beyond your social circle.

Foster the relationships that affect you in a positive way and anything else isn’t worth it.  Your gut will always be more trustworthy than the most advanced logic or whatever Cosmo tells you. Sometimes you need to be a little selfish to be happy.

Take classes that are a mix of things you love and things that will teach you something. In the end, you’re not a product of your GPA, but of your thinking process, your curiosity and your passion. If you take lots of classes you don’t like, you’re just setting yourself up for a career you won’t like either. If you take lots of classes that you don’t care about, you’re not setting yourself up for anything.

Savor going to class and leaving feeling like your brain is a little fuller, a little more developed. Continue those leftover discussions that materialize as you’re walking out of the lecture hall. Don’t feel weird siphoning yourself off in a corner at a party to argue about political theory or gush over how cool the regenerative process of human organs is. Be nerdy.

Don’t look at college just as preparation for the rest of your life. Yeah, jobs are important and yeah, your future is important, but now is important too. It may not be the real world, but it’s still real life and as my favorite headmaster says, it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.

Think about how silly and wonderful and ridiculous it is that the corner outside of CTP is a valid destination in your night’s journey, that all of your best friends are within walking distance. This is an atmosphere that probably won’t recreate itself ever again in your lives. Even the name Collegetown sounds so charmingly cliché, like some fantasy world where kids run on beer and pizza and knowledge and ideas. And that’s kind of what it is.

Above all, don’t let yourself become jaded. There is too much left to be learned, laughed at, cried over, surprised by, and in awe of for your barely-legal self to be jaded already.

Part of being a freshman is about not knowing what the hell you’re doing.  Part of me wants you to read all of this and tell yourself, “Obviously,” or “I know better.” Part of me wants you to struggle and fall and be awkward and mess up because that’s how all of us got to where we are now. And clearly we think we know everything.

In hindsight — and hindsight is always 20/20 — maybe this isn’t a list of things to tell you, but a list of things that we seniors need to remind ourselves to do. We may be SO over going to the same three bars every night but we need to remember that there is life here outside of Pixel. If these are supposed to be the best years of our lives, we sure as hell better make sure we live them up. So, seniors, “Enjoy it. Because it’s happening.” And I’ll see you guys at the next Kite-boarding Club meeting.

Original Author: Rebecca Lee