Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
My last Heights column. It’s a last in a string of lasts that have passed and are still forthcoming now that graduation is less than a month away. In the past four years, I have spent a lot of time wishing for the last of things—tuition bills, exams, classes—and now my wish is being granted. Yet it’s hardly as liberating as I had imagined. Of course, a large part of that is due to the unemployment that seems to await me, but it’s more than that. In four years, Boston College has become a second home—a familiar and comfortable place where I’ve done a lot of growing up. So as I think about leaving this place, I’d like to share some of my experiences in the hopes that someone, maybe even me, will learn from them.
When I entered BC freshman year, I had a chip on my shoulder. I didn’t want to go here—in fact, I deigned to attend. With this idiotic mindset, life was not easy. I pushed potential friends away at every turn and didn’t trust the friends I had, leaving me feeling incredibly alone. On weekends I often went home to avoid the inevitable anxiety of a Friday night without plans. Although I enjoyed my classes, there was always a feeling of discomfort and a lack of belonging.
Four years later, I sometimes still feel the same anxieties that I experienced as a freshman. But in the intervening years, I came to know and love the friends that I could never quite let myself trust. And I also realized that I am not and was not the only person who feels this way. The thing about people at BC is that they never want to be perceived as unhappy. That’s generally true of all people—no one enjoys the company of a miser. But behind the smiles, tans, salmon shorts, and yoga pants are all people who worry about the same sorts of things. In fact, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that those who seem the most sociable or popular or desirable are no better off than anyone else. They cry, they have drama, and they stress. Maybe they hook up with so-and-so or have a party to go to on every occasion, but are these the things that really define the BC experience?
Perhaps they are. Certainly I have fond memories of time spent at Mary Ann’s, on Foster Street, and in the Mods. When I retired to my bed after the festivities of Marathon Monday, I found myself wishing that the day would never end (as opposed to freshman year when I had nothing to do and thought my life was over). Many of the people that I hope to stay in touch with for the rest of my life are those with whom I shared a drink, or 10.
Yet when I think of things I’ll miss most about BC, it isn’t the parties. It’s seeing Gasson lit up at night. It’s being in Bapst when the sun shines through the stained glass in just the right way. It’s talking to my favorite professors at office hours. It’s eating a Hillside Veggie with a friend on a Friday afternoon. It’s reading something genuinely interesting and moving for class. It’s taking the classes themselves.
I guess what I’ve come realize, at least in my graduation induced psychosis and/or enlightenment, is that being a student is a privilege. Sometimes it’s a privilege that I have abused either by not doing the work or doing it half-heartedly. That’s a realization that I haven’t enjoyed coming to, but as a very wise woman recently reminded me, very few people are fully self-actualized. Hard as that may be to accept, in the end I’ve studied some of the greatest texts of all time with outstanding professors and insightful classmates. Even the classes that I despised, and they certainly existed, have taught me something, even if that something is not to trust people to put their biases aside. Learning such valuable things in the unworried confines of BC has been a tremendous blessing.
Yet life demands moving beyond the safe and familiar. So when I receive my diploma on May 21, whether employed or not, it will be my last day as an undergraduate at BC. In the dark days of freshman year, it was a day that couldn’t come soon enough, and in the waning days of senior year, it’s coming all too fast. But when it inevitably comes, I will leave BC with a much greater awareness of the world and myself. Despite the criticisms over the years, my last words to BC as a Heights columnist are these— thank you.