Sleepless in Stillman

In 2013, I used to wish it was 2017. I would climb into my bottom bunk in Stillman and curl up on my black-and-white sheets, daydreaming about graduation. I would imagine a black robe and a diploma passed between hands and wish that I could be in that moment. Then I would think about my family at home and how uncomfortable I was at Colgate, and I would lay there in a sleepless state, holding onto my pillow and my sadness. Caught up in my desire to be somewhere else, I found it impossible to enjoy the place and the people around me. Sort of pathetic, but mostly true.

I thought that keeping busy would be the solution. Wrapping myself up in my readings, editing and re-editing my papers and keeping myself hyper-scheduled, I found my seat at Case and allowed myself to become a fixture at the library. I followed a script that was written in the syllabus so that I could try to be a part of the “college experience,” at least academically. I did what I was supposed to do and, because of that, I told myself that my time here was worth it. Or, at least would be worth it.

At the start of this semester, one of my professors posed a question to our class, which is made up of all second-semester seniors: “What makes you get out of bed in the morning?” I thought about this question for the rest of class… and have since thought about it for the rest of the semester.

I always joke with one of my friends that I have an existential crisis after nearly all of my classes with this professor, but this time it felt like more than a joke. Why do I get out of bed in the morning? Scarily, I did not have an answer right away, but it didn’t seem as though the other students around me did either. Maybe I get up because I have a 9:20 class. Or, maybe I get up because I know that I have pressing deadlines or some other responsibility to attend to and think that if I do everything “right” in this moment, I will eventually find a good job so I can start doing something that I love. Maybe I’ve bought into that argument.

Or, maybe it’s because of something entirely different. Maybe it’s because – when I wake up in the morning – I know that the day will be filled with both mundane and unexpected things. Maybe it’s because I live for those random times I find myself dancing delusionally around the living room after a long night at layout while one of my roommates raps to Eminem, or riding in the car to Price Chopper to pick up groceries with friends at 1 a.m. Maybe it’s the prospect of seeing a familiar face at the library, or coming home to a cake from my friends when they know I’ve had a rough day. It could be the possibility that my day will end with me blasting “Love on the Brain” in the car or drinking margaritas out of reusable coffee cups. It could also be the thought that the day will involve venting to my parents on the phone, laughing with my friends as they try to teach me how to “hug better,” seeing my sister’s admirably crazy Instagram posts, getting iced coffee with my mentee, hearing a classmate thank me for helping them understand something, rethinking my entire Colgate experience after an educational studies class, driving for four hours with someone I realized I knew little about, studying outside in the sun or experiencing a runner’s high after jogging for a few miles (okay, more like one mile). Maybe it’s these unscheduled, unpredictable moments that get me through the day.

And maybe it’s these moments that made me get up from my bed in Stillman in 2013. And up again in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Maybe these moments have brought me to the precipice of a moment I once dreamed of getting to and now feel is approaching a bit too rapidly.

I don’t know if these are the moments that I wake up for because most of the time I don’t think about how significant they are until they are long gone. I certainly didn’t appreciate moments like these during my first year at Colgate. However, I think waking up in the morning has something to do with possibility – it is the memory of past moments and the hope that a version of them will happen again that gets me up in the morning now and subsequently pulls me through the day.

I have slowly come to value these memories as parts of my Colgate experience – or, rather, as the most valuable parts of my Colgate experience. Learning to value these moments has been a four-year process. If I gained nothing else in my time here, this belief – this “lesson,” if you will –  in the possibility of future unplanned encounters during seemingly small moments has made the experience worth it.

However, I do not want to romanticize my Colgate experience, as I tend to romanticize everything. It’s been messy. It’s possible it would be enough for me to do it all over again if I knew I would leave with this lesson, but I don’t know. Maybe it wouldn’t. I do know that it’s now 2017, and I don’t know how to feel about that.