In honor of the start of a new academic year and the start of my senior year, I thought that I would begin with a letter to my first-year self. While I did personalize this, I hope there is something each reader can take away:
Dear smol Kira, Shak, KPalm,
Hello, and welcome to Colgate! Every senior will tell you that time flies, and it’s really true. It is frightening how little and how much time has passed since I was in your shoes.
This school will break you down and build you up. It will resocialize you for better and for worse, changing the way you think, dress and act. You will become more of a conformist, but you will also find your own voice. This applies in the classroom, on the track and in your social life.
Ah yes, your social life. Now that you are not doing gymnastics twenty hours a week you will have time to get involved in various clubs and explore the nightlife scene. Along with this comes the fun, messy, confusing and frustrating world of relationships and hooking-up (a hookup is an incredibly ambiguous term at Colgate and if you tell your high school friends you hooked up with someone at the Jug, they will think you had sex on a public dance floor). It is on a whole new scale compared to high school.
You will feel incredibly desirable, wanted, needed and loved at times. You will have beautiful experiences, like star-gazing in the Field of Dreams with your first Colgate crush. You will not care about your morning classes when you are up at 3 a.m. for “truth talks” with people in the dorms, connecting and sharing raw experiences. Living with and near your friends will provide you with both tame and wild nights where you laugh and dance so hard that you’re sore the next day.
Other times you will feel like a plastic bag, drifting through the wind (thanks Katy Perry). You will have moments when your latest hookup has suddenly stopped Snapchatting you and you cannot seem to figure out if he is just busy or no longer interested. Your friends will start dating and suddenly have little time for you and your friendship. When you go abroad you may not talk to your people for months; you may not get to see some of them for over a year.
It won’t always be about your relationships. As friends have sex for the first time, are rejected by a booty-call, deal with family struggles, develop a new crush, have a falling out with the friend group or find out a partner has been cheating, you will need to be there for them. Honestly, your experience, or lack thereof, in any of these situations does not diminish the value of the advice and encouragement you can give and the comfort you can provide.
I hope that your experiences and the experiences of the ones you hold close are on this level, and that your relationships and intimate encounters at school can be categorized as “normal.” However, the fact of the matter is that you will meet and interact with many individuals who have been sexually assaulted. It is an issue on Colgate’s campus, as it is on college campuses across the nation. Get educated; on campus resources, on how to support survivors, on positive sexuality (hello, Yes Means Yes), et cetera.
Welcome to the next four years of your life. I hope you open your mind and open your heart, even when it may be most difficult. If you do so, you’ll learn more about life, sex and relationships than any class can ever teach you.
All my love,
Contact Kira Palmer at [email protected]