Opinions, Column

Degrees of Separation

I’ve started being secretive.

I have a running list in my head of people I share everything with, unconditionally. Everyone else gets the usual: a dose of small talk, sprinkled with mentions of classes, weather, clothes, and perhaps a drop of Boston College drama. There’s nothing really wrong with this—yes, people have their issues with small talk, but today, that’s not my struggle.

My struggle is the secrets I’m keeping.

I never wear my hair in natural curls. I only answer “how are you?” with “good,” when that is rarely the case. I stay away from voicing my strong liberal views in class. No one knows when I fight with my roommates or worry about my brother or put my soul into a paper. No one knows when I feel free, full of life, and wholly confident. No one knows when I am breaking at the seams. No one knows what sparks my brightest joys or my deepest sorrows. Very few people can recount my favorite color (unless, of course, I’ve let you into my innermost circle).

And just like you don’t know these things about me, I don’t know them about you.

But here’s what I—a self-proclaimed people person who genuinely wants to know about all the little things that make people who they are—have come to understand.

My social world, as my perfectionistic brain views it, is laid out in perfectly concentric circles. There’s my friends, their friends, their friends’ friends, and so on, with only a few connecting lines in between. But, as college has shown me, my supposedly circular map is more accurately layed out as a jumble of zig-zagging lines and intersecting arrows. Everyone seems to know everyone. Since uncovering the knotted mess that is my social life, I realize that I have begun to curate the “me” that I share with this tightly connected world.

My favorite small-world story starts like this:

“So I ran into my ex-home best friend’s college friend who I met at a party because he’s my ex-boyfriend’s college best friend’s home friend …”

I’ve surely, by now, lost a few of you.

But the idea is this: If you are in some convoluted way connected to me, then you have probably heard my name and I have probably heard yours. I feel we have about two degrees of separation (in at least 10 different directions) from everyone on this campus. And if this slightly scary interconnected microcosm exists, I decided long ago that I would like the grapevine to carry a message about me that I endorse—a message that was carefully crafted and perfectly curated.

Which brings me back to all my little secrets. Since returning to BC’s campus this fall, I have been operating from behind an invisible wall. Because I could no longer tell whose zig-zagging lines intersected, I thought it made sense to limit what I shared to that sworn-to-secrecy list in my head. And so my secrets grew.

But I now see the error of my ways. By blocking my true self from others, I’ve made it impossible to accomplish my life’s mission—getting to know other people and forming real relationships.

So, because I hate the idea of New Year’s resolutions, here’s my Feb. 5 resolution: as cheesy as it sounds, I want to be authentic.

I don’t have to be an open book. I just have to have a few pages easily accessible and add a few more words to the author’s blurb on the back.

So, hey! My name, which my dad gave me, is Meadow. I’m 5-foot-3-and-¾, but I’ll insist I’m 5-foot-4. I’m weirdly terrified of slime, and I have two weighted stuffed sloths that I cuddle at night. I’ve never successfully made it through more than 10 pages of any journal that I’ve started, but writing is my passion—it’s in the stories I write that I feel most at home. I love my younger brother more than anyone else in the world, and I’m working to heal some of my friendships. I don’t handle stress well, but I’ll fight you if you tell me that. Neither home or school make me completely happy, but I see so much good in both worlds.

So there’s a random, convoluted start to me. And, if you’ll share, I want to know all the little pieces of each one of you.

We’re in college. We’re still figuring out who we are. But until we start revealing those secrets, no one will ever know who that really is.

February 5, 2023