Crimson opinion writer
Libby E. Tseng
Trauma dumping doesn’t have to be awkward or upsetting, like the common definition suggests. With just a few simple steps, you can pull off a better version of a trauma dump: one that maximizes positive vulnerability and sharing, without triggering any embarrassment, shock, or discomfort.
With today’s editorial, the Board seems to have missed the punchline. As a long, important train of our precedents emphasizes, student well-being matters deeply and merits firm institutional support across a host of issues far more serious than a few sweltering evenings. But Harvard neither can nor should be a palace. Manageable, non-life-threatening adversity is an entirely reasonable burden to expect us to bear.
I thought that I found that sign during a Virtual Visitas Q&A. Amidst the standard replies to questions about food, concentrations, and classes, one answer stood out to me: When asked what their favorite part of Harvard was, a current student enthusiastically replied “the people.” This answer tipped the scales and instilled the confidence I needed to accept the offer of admission. But after spending two years at Harvard, I have lost faith in that simple answer.
To rising sophomores, even though you might wait with bated breath, desperately hoping for a particular House, you will love wherever you end up. You will accept the overly-friendly vermin, perpetually dirty hallway bathroom, time-consuming walk, or whatever other superficially annoying fixture you encounter. Regardless of the House and community you randomly become a part of, your House will undoubtedly become your home.
The power we give to the word “fat” creates these issues, and we turn a blind eye. We cannot ignore the damage we create. In order to dismantle fatphobia, we need to unlearn the assumptions we make about fat people. Rather than “fat” as a moral condemnation, it should simply be a visual descriptor.
This emptiness triggered in me the realization that I had come to Harvard for the wrong reasons. I had fruitlessly tried to use my education to shape others’ impression of me instead of using it to enrich my own life and the lives of others. Remembering my dad, I knew his sacrifices were made for my happiness, not for me to convince others of it. I needed to let go of how others saw me and my circumstances, and had to start living for myself.
As one of the world’s leading academic institutions, Harvard should strive not to meet expectations but exceed them. This means actively working for positive change. Demonstrating a strong commitment to creative action against climate change can bolster Harvard’s reputation as innovative and globally-minded.
Your status as a Harvard student should have no bearing on your ability to love yourself. Yet, in the virtual world, I have found that the reflection you see on Zoom can distract from mental and physical health and make it much harder to appreciate the parts of yourself that aren’t on display.