Earlier in the semester, I ended a relationship with a significant other from my hometown. The next evening, she questioned the rationale of my decision. Most importantly, she criticized my inability to see things from her perspective and the sole idolization of my own happiness. The conversation brought forth thoughts of dread and guilt, not for my dead relationship, but for the severe amounts of selfishness that I had carried with me throughout the past couple of weeks. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how applicable my selfishness could be towards other facets of my life at Colgate. This isn’t a digression about my past relationships but of my perceptions of self-preservation in my daily life. I am like many of my millennial peers: concerned for my future and focused on my development. I pride myself on being able to do the right things to develop and grow, but I worry that it comes at a cost. Sometimes, my pursuit of happiness may be at the sacrifice of my friends and family. It’s uncommon for me to really stop and reflect on the goals of my friends and how I can truly support them, preferring to think about how they develop me as a person. I’ve stopped checking in, and as a result, I’m checking out of their lives. It personally hurts to not put all of myself into their lives, and I’m striving to get that back. Unconditional love, openness and honesty are good starts to this pursuit.
When I think about the motives for my selfish behavior, it boils down to a heightened focus on the future. There’s something novel about the frenzied uncertainty of the future during the senior year of college, and many students enjoy things seamlessly falling into place. Several of my colleagues at the Maroon-News have written about the importance of enjoying things as they are in the moment, and I’ll be the first to jump on that bandwagon. Instead of fantasizing about my new job or moving out of Connecticut, I’ll be focusing on my connections and let myself take a back seat.
I hope this change of heart can extend to the Colgate population at large. An act of selflessness can go a long way in a campus climate that is in dire need of person-to-person understanding. This current academic year has been one in which students have challenged the status quo at Colgate, more so than any of my four years here. Naturally, the discourse is not always harmonious. Oftentimes the conversations have devolved into ad hominem attacks and have gotten us nowhere. It goes without saying that personal attacks are deplorable and should not be tolerated at Colgate. If these attacks stem from an act of ignorance, a notion of perspective should be taken into account before hatred gets spewed. Rather than calling someone ignorant, investigating why people feel a certain way multiplies the discourse rather than divides it into broken wavelengths. For example, the argument surrounding Torchlight is grounded in a lack of understanding on both sides of the issue. I, like many other students on campus, find it hard to see a connection between the Torchlight robes and white supremacist organizations, but I know that several students see and feel the pain from that connection on a frequent basis on campus. Therefore, I must not only think of my traditions and consider those of others when determining whether robes are the right tradition for the university. The administration’s decision to promote individual choice is a good one, because it allows us as a community to make a decision potentially grounded in understanding. Acknowledging that the robes are either a symbol for accomplishment at Colgate or something much more negative is a task that we all must make, but it can be done if we orient ourselves on the motivations of others. It’s not too late for me to be more selfless, and it’s not too late for my fellow Colgate students.