It’s only everything we’d been waiting for what felt like our entire lives — the big change, the first taste of true freedom most of us would be able to experience, away from parents and strict expectations and left (mostly) to our devices. Most of us had been planning for it, hoping for something better, something that was worth waiting and struggling all that time for, and now we’re here, wrapping up our first year of this great adventure we’d been waiting on for so long.
Sometimes it feels like move in day was just yesterday — I can clearly recall the hoards of students excited to help us move in and the chaos that ensued. I won’t soon forget the tears on my parents face as they left me behind on this strange new campus, and who can ever forget orientation (I mean, at least the fact it happened)? Yet here we are, wrapping up our first official year at Swat, and there’s so much to look back on and reflect on it’s pretty overwhelming, especially with finals lurking around the corner. But it seems almost impossible to avoid reminiscing as we watch the flowers bloom and the campus start to resemble what it looked like that first move in day.
Obviously, I can’t pretend to know what all of you wanted or were expecting from this experience. If you were expecting a ton of fun and little work or a ton of work and a little fun, or if you had any clue Sharples would have this many questionable meals. Perhaps you were hoping for your first real, serious romantic relationship, or perhaps you were just looking to hook up. Maybe you believed you’d find your perfect friends, or maybe you just came in trying to find yourself. Whatever you were hoping, I think we can agree upon the fact that we were able to be in this together, and some experiences fell short while some surpassed all imagination.
So perhaps Sharples managed to fall short of our hopes, pasta bar twice a week being a little much. And maybe the whole romantic scene on campus wasn’t what we were expecting, the small campus causing things to blow up and spread much faster than imaginable. And you know what, maybe you didn’t find your niche yet, maybe you’re still looking for the right friends because those you made during orientation turned out to be very different from whom you’d thought they were.
Perhaps freshman year ended up being a little more work and a little less fun than you imagined it would be, but you made it this far. Pass/Fail may have been more stressful than previously believed, yet now without it everything feels twenty times harder. And most likely, this year went by faster than any other year in your life but was filled with more experiences and feelings and relationships than any other as well. But 2020, this is not all we’ve experienced.
Along the way, we’ve found something within ourselves that’s convinced us we are strong enough and smart enough to be here, to push through the all nighters and crazy papers. We’ve discovered a strength within ourselves that we never knew was there, one that has let us believe in ourselves a little more. Maybe we haven’t quite found ourselves, but we’ve grown in ways we would’ve never hoped for, found ourselves in places we would’ve never pictured ourselves in and given ourselves some room to grow and be a little better than we were yesterday.
I recall my senior quote was, “Perhaps we’ll find what we’re looking for, or maybe, we’ll find something much greater than that.” I can’t say I’ve found what I’ve been looking for yet, but I can say that the journey has been much greater than I could’ve ever asked for. Even though the pain and complaints are still there and some days it may feel like all the struggles we’ve been going through aren’t really worth it, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. So thank you for a great first round 2020, and here’s to the next three.