The reader may care to know the following: In preparation for this essay, I read through similar pieces published in this space, written by graduating seniors over the past few years. The purpose of this mission was to see what material older, respected colleagues of mine had selected for their so-called "parting shots." I didn't want to be the one to write that unreadable column, the one that you folks would be talking and giggling about at the clambake and master's reception.
You see, I was having a troublesome time determining what to write about for this essay. I had signed up weeks before to write, and now, sitting alone in my room, armed with a stack of previously published commencement-week op-eds, I couldn't think of anything original, innovative and useful I wanted to say.
Every idea I had was in the pile. The ones starting with "Recently I've been thinking..." and "Over the past four years...." The dissertations on the ghostly Harvard advising system. The irreverent references to General Wong's chicken and urinating on John Harvard. Even the open-letter format, which I had come up with in the shower a few days before, was taken last year.
As I sifted through these pieces, with a blank Document1 remaining on the computer screen, I became increasingly frustrated. I mean, what do you people want to read about anyway? Another student outlining Harvard's imperfections? Another graduate waxing poetic about all Harvard had taught him or her about some aspect of the meaning of life? Really, at some point or another, I've expressed these thoughts and done these things, a few times in public forums such as this and other times in more private settings like meetings with administrators and senior surveys. It appears that what needs to be said has already been said.
Now, though, at this point, a thought suddenly occurs to me. Why not write about what's most important to me as I graduate from Harvard? That's simple and to the point. No, it's not the honors diploma I'm leaving with, or the memories I have as co-editor of a big campus magazine. And no, it's not that I could have done better here had I received better advising, eaten better food or lived in a nicer room. Rather, simply stated, it's that I'm happy. That's right, happy. On the day I graduate from college, June 8, 2000, I am delighted to inform you all that I'm a happy person.
Before continuing, as I've learned in my experience writing countless papers and essays, I should define my terms. Happiness does not equal utopic perfection. Despite my happiness, I do still wish that, among other things, I could get an extra hour of sleep every morning, that my muscles were a bit larger and my shirts were always ironed and pressed for me; that the Mets, Knicks and Jets could win their respective league championships every year; and that there be world peace, a solution to global warming and a cure for cancer.
At the same time, for a variety of reasons, I'm a pretty happy kid. I turn twenty-two on Saturday, and I'm ready to face the world. The obvious question now becomes why. Why am I so damn happy? I just spent four years at one of the toughest colleges in the world, taking my occasional beatings, doing a lot of growing up, but I'm walking out of the gates with a smile on my face. I can try to offer you a few reasons.
First, my family. Yeah, my mom can get annoying with her twice-a-day e-mails from home (good morning tatella, and good night tatella), and my dad never listens to me when I'm sick (he's a doctor). But through ups and downs, I've been fortunate enough to have them, plus my sister, grandparents, et al., to help me whenever help was needed. And that is them you will hear on Thursday afternoon, howling the loudest catcall in the Quincy House courtyard as my name is called.
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