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Skipping Stones

By Molly L. Roberts

BELFAST, Maine—I'm very bad at skipping rocks, but I do it anyway.

I gather them at the top of the beach, because that's where the really flat ones are. My dog skips, too, at my heels. He thinks the rocks are like sticks—with each splash, he darts partway into the water hoping to retrieve them. No such luck. They usually sink on first contact with the water anyway. I'm very, very bad at skipping rocks.

I fling the first into the ocean. It hops once, awkwardly to the right. Then it goes under.

I've just finished a summer doing what I do most of the year: writing editorials. It was different than the Crimson, of course. A greater focus on reporting. Facts over flourishes. More of an incentive to write short. My colleagues weren't mostly 19-year-old boys, but 50-year-old men (the gender imbalance was one constant). In many ways, it felt more like freshman year than my life at Harvard now: a whole lot of trying to prove myself. I wanted to impress. I wanted even more to be liked. Every editorial seemed a shot in the dark—or a stone in the surf.

Three skips. Impressive, by my standards.

I did well, for the most part, but it was still hard this summer. It’s always hard when you're supposed to be good at something. My own expectations have always been the toughest to meet, and every now and then it's inevitable that I let myself down. There's a lot to be good at, too. It's not just writing editorials. It's staying sharp in section. It's getting high grades. Saying the right thing in the dining hall or at parties. Being thoughtful to my friends at school and keeping in touch with the ones at home. Calling my parents.

Two skips this time, and then a wave to ruin it.

The stress of a summer job is over, yet the stress of senior year will take its place soon. There are lots of old things to be good at, and new ones too. That only means more chances to fall short. I want to be a better roommate. I want to meet people I haven't taken the time to meet yet. I have more commitments outside of the classroom than ever and a thesis to write in the fall. Right now, though, I'm skipping rocks.

No skips.

“You suck at that,” my mom calls down from our front porch.

“I know,” I call back, happily.


Molly L. Roberts '16, a Crimson editorial chair, is an English concentrator in Cabot House.

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HighlightSummer Postcards 2015