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Immediately after our last college finals ended, while camping in the woods, my Senior Outdoor Reflection Trip [SORT] of 11 people sat around in a circle, each person reflecting on their time at Harvard. By the time it got to me, it was pouring rain and pitch-black outside, but still, everyone turned to listen to my deep, thoughtful ruminations on the last four years.
I hadn’t known it at the time, but that two-foot putt on the 18th green had marked one of the most special moments of my time at Harvard: It signified the end of my collegiate golf career.
Since I can remember I’ve argued with my friends about sports.
I’ve gotten used to the sounds of a newsroom. The clicking of a dozen keyboards and the quick, clipped footsteps of writers on deadlines. But this was, necessarily, quite different.
March 30, 2011, was a dreary day in Winston-Salem, N.C.—cold, gray, and wet—but that didn’t stop me from getting to BB&T Ballpark early. The Class-A Winston-Salem Dash were hosting the Chicago White Sox, and I was in desperate need of a distraction.
As I reflect on the last four years, I realize now that my greatest competitive battles at Harvard have come not at the MAC or in an Ec 10 lecture hall, but with my rear planted firmly on some species of futon and my hands wrapped around a small video remote.
I could have struggled at something while impressing no one at all. I think we all could have benefited from that.
Can I escape the tyranny of societal meaning and, as much as is possible, replace it with meaning that I create with others, out of passion, understanding, and love?
At a school known best for and, in large part ruled by, academics, the most enriching learning experiences of an undergraduate’s career can often come in a different place entirely.
I hope we remember to draw inspiration not only from the achievements of our role models and friends but also from the ways in which they have been thoughtful, empathetic community-builders.
They vanished back into the night, in search of a “real Harvard party,” or at least an alley in which to shotgun a beer or something.
I still remember how I spent the summer prior to Freshman Week, fixated on my own imaginings of a perfect Harvard, of everything I would do, experience, and accomplish during my time here.
Making a conscious effort to be spontaneous and adventurous has made all the difference to me in deriving enjoyment out of a place that I know can be stressful, high-pressure, and demanding.
Students measure their achievements by their reception and competitive value, rather than their absolute value. Personal worth and self-esteem become tied up with success.