Congratulations! It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that more than a year has passed since I was in your place. Go ahead, celebrate. You deserve to.
(But try and show up to your classes still. Set two alarms, or three, or five. Let senioritis get the best of you only twice every week.)
People may have told you that Dartmouth prepares you for the real world. I’m going to use this post to declare to you and the world that that’s a lie. You know why? Because Dartmouth is the real world.
After my acceptance to Dartmouth, my Facebook inbox and wall were full of links to articles about Dartmouth in recent media. About a 78.36% of you have very likely read similar articles already along with 208 posts titled “Is the Greek system really that bad omg should I go to Brown instead??????!!!!!!” on College Confidential. If any of you are slightly disenchanted, I can’t blame you because the concern is only natural. I arrived on campus after flying for twenty-six hours with a migraine attack and an overnight stay at the Logan airport. I had definitely crossed the luggage limit with my three suitcases, two hand-carry bags, eight pounds of disenchantment and five pounds of nervousness, but carrying all of that around campus on my own self was a dire impossibility. That day, people I had just met on my way helped me carry everything to my dorm (thank you, grad students and HCroo). Whenever I talk about Dartmouth, I mention the people a lot. At Dartmouth, you’ll come across people and problems from time to time that remind you of the horrors often associated with the real world. Like the real world, you’ll get hurt and you’ll make mistakes. You’ll hate yourself a little bit for making those mistakes. The one thing that makes Dartmouth an amazing version of the real world, though, is how easy it is to find ordinary miracles around you in the community.
Dear ‘18s, I absolutely do not discourage you from reading the pieces about the problems of Dartmouth, because they are going to be your problems soon. We want you here with us as all of us together are trying to make this college a better place. Promise me one thing, though. Don’t pull a Prodhi and be thoroughly disenchanted before you come here, but don’t think of Dartmouth as a world separated from the “real world” either. When they talk about the Greek system on campus, they don’t tell you about laughing at yourself when you bounce the ball on another table across the basement in your first few pong games. They don’t tell you about the brothers who assure you that you’ll get better at it eventually and how they were worse at it their freshman year as you stand there red-faced at your lack of coordination. They don’t tell you about dancing in basements to Avicii or Zedd or fratrap with friends. Like the real world, you are going to make choices for yourself. You’ll drink sometimes, like Alex had mentioned in another post—or maybe not. Either way, when they talk about alcohol issues at Dartmouth, they don’t tell you about deep inebriated and sober conversations with your friends and floormates about hookups and heartbreaks and the things you learn about yourself along the way. Someday, you’ll only do fifteen possibly-stupid things over the course of a weekend night and pat yourself on the back. Someday, you’ll learn to not check your cellphone, Facebook and Blitz “sent”-boxes after such nights for your own health. A friend you want to be closer to will sleep over talking to you the whole night as you pour your heart out and take care of you, because you look like you need it. Your floormate will ask you if you’re okay as your sniffling in the bathroom cubicle sounded a lot like sobbing. You will have conversations that leave a mark on you (sometimes late into the night) in Novack and KAF and Morano. Throughout your conversations, you will agree and disagree; you will have your own ideas challenged and challenge somebody else’s ideas. I myself realized that Dartmouth was the real world when a ’14 I had been talking to brought it up. Most importantly, you will learn. Through every little thing that you do here, you will learn and you will find magic in so many people around you. You will learn to accept yourself and learn how to be better. You will learn how to professionally deliver presentations in the presence of a distractingly attractive individual in your classroom. You will learn about yourself as you walk into the office hours of your Sociology professor and start talking about feeling like a bro (which of course leads into the discussion of gender constructs and interaction). You will learn that having a planner makes the biggest difference in the world.
You will learn how to be yourself– the real you, the real person. Could there be a world more real than the place where that happens?
Welcome to the Real World, my lovely ’18s. I can’t wait to meet you all.