I have never seen my friends as stressed as they have been this term. With GREs, LSATs, jobs, graduate schools and interviews, in addition to senior theses and research, staying sane constitutes a minor miracle. Maybe even a major miracle, depending on their concentration. I have seen tears and mental breakdowns, and it’s only October.
So, this fall, I am spending as much time as possible not doing work. Instead, you can find me having dinner at Rusch’s with my best friend, tossing smiles at the cute waiter I just keep running into all over town. You can find me throwing dance parties in my housemate’s bedroom with our favorite first-years. And you can definitely find me at Wednesday Night Trivia with Doug Chiarello, because my love affair with trivia gets me through the work week… and because I adore Doug.
I refuse to sacrifice my senior year on the altar of self-promotion. I am more than my transcript and my résumé. I have no desire to kill myself with stress by working overtime on projects and papers, not when I can enjoy the company of my Colgate friends instead. After all, friendships get graded too. They require time investment and consistency, and there are very clear deadlines. May marks graduation, and easy access to many beloved companions will change along with the calendar page.
The idea of absence is nothing new. Since coming to Colgate my freshman year, I’ve missed three funerals, all of whom were for women who were monumental in shaping my life. Because of Freshman Orientation, I missed my cousin’s wedding, the first marriage in my generation of the family. Those are moments I cannot regain. They are balanced only by the love and companionship I have discovered in Hamilton.
I know that these women would want me to cherish every day, not to take for granted where I am, to act with intention. While watching Family Weekend approach, I just hope the people with visiting family members can celebrate the time they get to spend together, because really, you never know when next you will see those faces. That bittersweet truth is in the difference and the distance between September 10 and September 12. The chance to love should not be taken lightly.
I suppose I’m writing about love, really. The people I’ve lived with and the people I’ve learned to live without, they all have roles in my history, but I choose every day with whom my future will be built. So many friendships have changed from those early days. We’re older, more battle-scarred, but we can appreciate each other with a sincerity that only the knowledge of loss can create. In less than seven months, I will be a graduate — assuming I pass my seminar. When I think back over the last three years, true, some of my favorite memories do involve classes and homework: late nights reading in the Coop, being World Archaeology’s unofficial TA, joking with my professors in hallways and writing in Italian while drinking limoncello-laced tea. But Colgate is so much more than rigorous academics and extracurricular clubs — all of my favorite memories involve good friends. I think of sledding down the old ski hill, drinking coffee at the Barge, spending my Sunday mornings in the Chapel and my Friday nights downtown. I remember the laughter, not the grades.
With that being said, I’m still a senior and I’m still a student. While writing my senior thesis, taking classes and sending out job applications, discovering any free time is an impossibility — it must be created. Maintaining the moments that remind you to enjoy life is critical. The work will get done eventually. In the meantime, I’m remembering to breathe. Like my mother told me the other day: “Work for tomorrow, but live for today; and do what you can to make someone else’s day brighter.”