Senior Send-off: Asking for help

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At the end of my sophomore year, I found myself sobbing into a cup of pudding at the Ratty.

Of course, by then, I had cried plenty of times. But this was the first time in college I’d ugly cried in public. I didn’t have the privacy of my room, or the drunken mutual understanding of a Keeney stairwell on a Saturday night: I was sitting immediately next to the apples and bananas, and I was crying. Audibly. Anyone trying to refill their coffee would have definitely heard my stifled sobs. They maybe would have even noticed the tears streaming down my face, splashing into vanilla custard.

This send-off isn’t about defining success or embracing uncertainty or taking active control of your happiness. Many bloggers have written about these topics—far better than I could. This send-off is about the low points of college.

Graduation is all too often a time when smiling is mandatory, and nostalgia overshadows reflection. The story of the past few years isn’t so neat, though. Success was not always inevitable, or expected. Not every pain became a teachable moment.

I want to talk about the low points, though, because they taught me that it’s okay to ask for help. As I was sitting in the Ratty, all I could worry about at the time was all the different ways I had already failed. I didn’t know what I was doing that summer, or where I was living. Switching majors was a terrible idea, and I’d never catch up to everyone else. My classes were tanking, and I was so behind in lecture that I didn’t even know how to be wrong anymore.

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Sextion: Lana’s Senior Send-Off

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Then + Now

In our last American Presidency lecture, Wendy Schiller (one of my favorite professors at Brown/people in the entire world) took our final moments together as a class to talk about life and love. One of her main theses was, “If someone is mean to you, they don’t love you.” And with that one thought, I knew what I would write my Senior Send-Off about. Throughout my tenure at Blog, I have tried to back up my articles with real anecdotes from my own life. With this one, my last, I am going to attempt to sum up everything about love and sex that I have learned in the last few years. Most importantly, I want to make clear that loving and respecting yourself is the key to finding your own internal happiness, and as a result, finding the love you deserve.

When I entered college (what feels like eons ago), 15 pounds lighter than I had been in high school and with a blank slate, I was determined to set myself up for romantic success. I flirted hard, and DFMO’d harder. I definitely wanted a significant other, but I had to admit: the adventure along the way was pretty fun. I became comfortable with other people seeing me naked. I lost my virginity. I perfected my blow job technique. I took everything that happened in stride, whether it was someone I had hooked up with blowing me off, or doing the same to someone interested in me. I was exploring entirely new territory and was happy to take the battle scars along the way.

Sophomore year, things started to shift. It was harder to just ignore that hurt feeling when someone treated me with less respect than I knew I deserved. That lack of respect was far-reaching: from one person who consistently ignored my texts until it was convenient for him, to one guy I had been dating for two months telling me he actually already had a girlfriend who didn’t go to school with us. “You’re so fun and great,” they would all tell me, “but I don’t want anything serious right now.” I put up with it because I wanted that affirmation that I had craved for so long. Maybe they would come around eventually, I rationalized.

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Senior Send-Off: Where you lead

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Then + Now

Where you lead, I will follow
Anywhere that you tell me to
If you need, you need me to be with you
I will follow where you lead.

Carole King’s song, “Where You Lead,” better known as the theme song for iconic television show Gilmore Girls, has served as the soundtrack of my senior year. Just ask my two roommates – they hear the tune echoing through our apartment much more frequently than they’d like. In fact, after they began to sing along mockingly and enthusiastically to King’s frequent crooning, I began self-consciously muting my computer every time that familiar title sequence comes on.

It does not help that Gilmore Girls spanned seven seasons, with each season consisting of 22 episodes. That means that my roommates have, so far, been subjected to 93 renditions of “Where You Lead,” and for that, I feel that I must apologize.

Following the lives of mother-daughter duo Lorelai and Rory Gilmore has served a much greater purpose than simply providing fodder for procrastination. These women accompanied me while I worked on my VISA0100 projects, as I folded my laundry, and when I ate my eggs in the morning. They bantered on while I browsed the Internet for jobs and distracted me when I just couldn’t bare to think about one more bullshit answer to the question: “What are you going to do after graduation?”

But here is the key fact that I realized about these two women: they’re not real. It came as much of a surprise to me as it likely did to you. They are not the people who have collaborated with me on class projects or accompanied me to Jo’s at 2 a.m., though they did remind me of the power and strength of loyalty. (Granted, being loyal to a television show is not much of an admirable feat; in reality, it’s more of an indication of utter laziness.) The connection between Rory and Lorelai is infamously strong; they epitomize good chemistry and unfaltering devotion. It seems serendipitous that I would only discover this enviable bond at the moment in my life when I would be spending the most time reflecting on the lessons I have learned from the myriad “real” relationships I have developed at Brown.

This semester, Gilmore Girls became my one constant, my one quiet respite from it all, upon which I could always rely to quiet down the “who’s” “what’s” and “where’s” that relentlessly accompany the prospect of leaving Brown. However, the dependence I developed on Lorelai and Rory sheds light on what I consider to be my greatest accomplishment at Brown: finding those who I would be with anywhere that they needed me to be.

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Senior Send-Off: A new kind of school spirit

Then + Now

Then + Now

Brown has found itself atop a lot of rankings lists, some more useful than others. BlogDH covers them all. We’re infamous for having once been the university with the happiest students (it was like 6 years ago, leave us alone!). And we’ve done it while being pretty smart and sexy, too.

None of those rankings, however, would ever deem us a spirited student body. That’s a University of Michigan or Duke or Alabama thing. Indeed, Brunonians often take an ironic sort of pride in their lack of school spirit. We ham it up for “Brown State” during Homecoming; we don’t even know the fake words to our fight song; most of us don’t have a clue what our football team’s record is, even in the rare year that we’re kind of good.

I believe Brown students’ lack of school spirit is a serious problem, and it’s making our campus less engaged, less united, and less safe.

And when I talk about school spirit, I’m talking about something that means so much more than supporting a university’s sports teams. This isn’t about how many people showed up for the night game against Harvard or how many different Brown sweaters you own. It isn’t about whether or not you’ve given to the Senior Gift Committee (though you should!). This is about how much stock each of us takes in the label “Brown Student.” Right now, that trait, just about the only thing that we have in common — except, perhaps, a love for Dave Binder — doesn’t matter as much as it should. From what I’ve seen in the past four years, the consequences of this undervaluing of what it means to go here have been dire. This campus is without question more divided than it was when I came here.

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Senior Send-off: Revisiting the archives

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Then + Now

Anyone who knows me knows that I love Instagram; in fact, I basically wrote my senior honors thesis on the topic. I’m incredibly nit-picky about how each photo is composed, filtered, captioned, and what it looks like with the rest of the photos in my account. The beauty of Instagram, and other social media platforms, is that we can edit our own experiences and curate a narrative for our friends and followers.

The camera roll in my iPhone tells another story – more specifically, the story of my college career, from start to finish. These images have documented the various events, friendships, ups, and downs of my life over the past four years. I can usually remember exactly how I was feeling during the moments in which each picture was captured; sometimes, I can even recall specific conversations that took place that day. My photos allow me to evoke highlights and victories, but also low-points and mistakes.

In the last episode of season four of Girls, Hannah Horvath tells an infant: “I can’t guarantee perfection, but I can guarantee intrigue.” (It’s only appropriate that I include a Girls quote, since my first-ever BlogDH post was the inaugural installment of “Lessons in the Girls Lexicon.”)

My college career hasn’t been perfect; I’m not sure that anyone’s is. I was EMS’d during orientation, I’ve had turbulent relationships – both with my friends and boys – and I made the mistake of taking ENGN1010 during second semester of Senior year.

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Senior Send-off: Finding happiness at the happiest school on Earth

Then + Now

Then + Now

People might know me as: “Merbz,” The Best Mom of the Class of 2014, proud history nerd, or the former Editor-in-Chief of BlogDailyHerald.

…well, at least that’s what people would say at this particular moment in time. My time at Brown hasn’t been characterized by a single or static set of experiences; it’s been a journey of self-discovery, trial-and-error, and exploration.

My friends and I have been thinking and talking a lot about happiness lately. We’ve been actively reflective about how much we’ve changed in these formative four years, and how different we feel from the earlier versions of ourselves who walked through the Gates back in September 2010. As Commencement Weekend creeps closer, I’ve noticed how my sadness about graduating manifests itself in my final days at Brown: trips on trips to (and drinks on drinks at) the GCB, hugs and snuggle sessions, and an active effort not to take any part of Brown for granted. Although it may seem like sadness is the inverse of happiness, this isn’t necessarily so; they are vastly different emotions, but our sadness about leaving this place goes hand in hand with the happiness many of us have developed throughout our time here. As we change contexts and transition from an insulated college campus to the slightly more terrifying “real world,” this sadness and nostalgia for Brown is essentially our happiness in a different form. In other words, it’s an indication that we’ve done as much as we possibly could to make the most of our four years. But happiness isn’t necessarily that simple.

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People never know how to respond when I tell them that I was once on Brown’s Varsity Softball team.

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