Last week a sophomore asked me to sum up my Harvard experience. It was during my last dinner in Annenberg, and seeing so many freshmen in one place made me nostalgic. I wanted to answer her as truthfully as possible. I answered, “I wish I had either studied harder or had more fun.” I didn’t study nearly as much as I should have and I didn’t have nearly as much fun as I should have been having, based on the amount of studying that was not getting done. But more importantly, I wish I had more time. I wish I had the time to do it all over again—and do it better.
I wish I had made more friends. I wish I had kept up with my old friends. Seeing people that I haven’t seen since freshman year during senior week just highlights all of the fun we could have had in the past three years. Now we probably will never see each other again, at least this skinny and with this much hair.
I wish I had gone out of my comfort zone and tried new things. New subjects, new classes, new sports. Did you know that there is a club for clowns? A club for surfers? In Boston? Freshman year saw me throwing myself into school activities, afraid that I wouldn’t make any friends if I didn’t, since I didn’t go to parties. But I went for the things I did in high school: the radio station, journalism, even Ultimate Frisbee (although in high school, it was a more informal extracurricular pursuit). After simultaneously joining the intramural and the women’s club Ultimate teams, I tore my ACL before classes even started while playing intramural Ultimate Frisbee. I later found out I was playing for the wrong entryway. This ruined my freshman year. I retreated inward because I was either constantly on crutches, in a brace, or spaced out on Vicodin.
I wish I had gotten into IM crew earlier. It turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my Harvard career, and I waited until the spring of my senior year to even try it. Yes, I was terrible and the Dunster boat ran into us; Dan Boyne was snarky and I, subbing as stroke seat, almost fell out of the boat. Playing a sport, being part of a team again after four sedentary years, was amazing. I met some awesome Adams residents and I wish I had met them earlier. I should have met them earlier, because we were all socially seniors.
I wish I had studied harder. I wish I had realized that yeah, even though I want to write for Rolling Stone now, perhaps in four years time I may change my mind. I may want to go to graduate school instead. After being a slacker overachiever in high school, I simply became a slacker. I figured I didn’t need good grades, because I was already at Harvard. I spent most of my freshman fall semester doing what my parents hadn’t let me do in high school, the really “important” things. My parents made me go to bed at 9 p.m. everyday, so I stayed up until 4 a.m., doing absolutely nothing. I hadn’t been allowed to watch television, so I spent lunches, dinners, evenings, and weekends in my room watching “Sex and the City,” “Gilmore Girls,” and “The Office”—basically any and all TV shows on DVD my roommates had. I eschewed Annenberg for lunches of ramen and beef jerky in front of the TV. It was glorious at the time, but looking back, I missed out on a lot: face to face interaction with Domna, befriending the rest of 2010, getting decent nutrition—all wasted opportunities.
I wish I had not procrastinated. I tried giving it up for Lent, but I kept putting it off. Even this parting shot is being dashed between senior week events. If I had started that one paper a little earlier, went to that one class more than half the time, taken that one course pass-fail…then I’d be in a better place. Perhaps now I would have a job and a place to live after graduation. But I don’t want to live anywhere but here. I want to stay at Harvard forever.
Now that I’m done with Harvard, I wish I weren’t looking back on my four years with regret, wishing I had spent my time differently. I’ve loved nearly every second of my time here. I can’t imagine going anywhere else. But there’s just so much more left to do and it’s sad to think that I’ve missed out. Things will never be the same. We will never be this young again. We will never have our closest friends living just down the hall. We will never be able to excuse our mistakes because “we’re just college students.”
Harvard has been a wonderful experience and I would need years and years to fully appreciate all of it, to explore all the College has to offer. And though my parents will kill me for saying this, I wish I weren’t graduating.
Candace I. Munroe ’10, a Crimson arts editor, is a history and literature concentrator in Adams House.
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