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.