Spring is the beginning of everything. A time when we can brush off the dust from the mistakes and regrets we kept hidden all winter, and step outside and find a refreshing new take on our lives. Even here at Swarthmore, the little college bubble we all (for the most part) happily reside in, spring seems to have taken on a persona of new beginnings. When spring rolls in, with its bright flowers and warmer weather, it’s as though a whole new persona has taken over the whole of Swarthmore College. It’s certainly a persona that’s worth enjoying, even if it’s only around for a short time.
Deadlines are still speeding at us faster than we realize, and exams loom closer with every warmer day that passes, and yet, a feeling of calm and serenity seems to have recently settled over us. A new sense of, “You know what? Maybe I can do it.” A bittersweet realization that yet another year has slipped right by, each class reacting to it slightly differently.
Of course, spring at Swarthmore is also so much more than new beginnings. For first years, spring at Swarthmore comes with the scary realization that the first year is almost over. The year when you’re supposed to take time to figure out who you are and what you want, the year where pass/fail protects you, the year where everything is new and nothing is the same as before — all that is gone. And soon you’ll be a sophomore and you’ll know what to expect and the surprises will diminish and with that comes the fear that maybe, the excitement might fade. But there’s also a feeling of accomplishment, a feeling of pride in the fact that no matter how many times freshman year tried to beat you up, you made it through and you’ve almost come out on the other side. Spring means a year has passed since your last high school milestones, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be alright.
For sophomores, spring carries with it some serenity with the knowledge that they made it halfway through, and they can now confidently give straight answers to the big major question. Spring means another year gone by, another year full of ups downs, but another year conquered, and perhaps that brings about some fear — because in fact, the years are passing maybe just a little too quickly and maybe the flowers aren’t as bright as you remembered last year, and maybe you need more new beginnings than spring is willing to give you. But somehow, it will work out because it did your freshman year, and because the sun is finally coming out again and because people are finally smiling and laughing a lot more than usual and something deep down promises you that it will, in fact, be okay.
For our juniors, spring must be a mix of emotions. You know how things work, how the years always seem to fly by, and yet, you’re still surprised, slightly unsettled by how another year is wrapping up. You look to the future and may see a blank canvas just like you might see a bright watercolor of your hopes and dreams, but either way, you tend to avoid looking in that direction. That direction has uncertainty and is unsettling to try and understand and plan, so instead you focus on the here and now. Spring is the time you can unwind a bit, enjoy your friends and the campus you live on, and remember to smile a little more; you’ve made it thus far, an accomplishment big enough to smile about.
And last, but certainly not least, our seniors. Spring for you, well, spring is something else. Spring is the start of a new person, once again, the start of a new life outside the bubble we all have grown to be so familiar with. Along with the blooming of the flowers, you wistfully smile and remember the years you were still able to be at ease with the idea that next year, you’d be back in another cramped dorm bed. But now, for the very first time, you aren’t sure where you’ll be in a year. So spring means everything to you. It means the end of so many chapters, the end of what you’ve known so well for four years, which may seem a bit sad. But spring also means the opening of doors, it means the start of a new life and the start of a new adventure, one that you have little to no clue how it’ll end. It means something new and yes, maybe a little scary, but nonetheless something exciting — for seniors, it’s a time in your lives you’re unlikely to ever forget, a time you’ll probably carry in your hearts forever.
So what is spring at Swarthmore? Honestly, it’s debatable, and I can’t pretend to sit here and have all the answers. What I can say is that spring is full of new and wonderful beginnings for people here at Swat, a time to find themselves again after the cold winter months and a time to enjoy the vitamin D instead of sitting hunched over a textbook in McCabe. And yes, of course, it’ll be different for each and every one of you, but it most certainly will not be a disappointment.