In Case You Were Wondering
In case you were wondering, the wearing of a “cap and gown” goes all the way back to the Middle Ages, when students wore robes to class. The mortarboard is a variation of a hat popular in the 15th century. It seems strange to think of the graduation ceremony when we still have 16 whole days to go, when we have finals to take and theses to turn in, but I have always been a fan of pomp and circumstance. I’ll get a cool hat with a tassel and they will call my full name, Catherine Elizabeth, a name I only whip out for momentous occasions such as graduation or possibly my coronation as ruler of a small European principality. I’m going to throw my hat up in the air, because when I was in high school I was denied the opportunity to don traditional academic garb. At my prep school, girls had to wear white dresses and carry flowers. In protest, I swore that I would never wear a white dress again, and then of course I joined a sorority, and said dress got taken out and worn several times a term. I know that the gowns are polyester, and it’s going to be hot, and that mortarboards are not exactly the most flattering headwear, but I am graduating college, damn it. I want to look the part. If you can’t tell where this is going or have just completely ignored the cover that says “Senior Issue,” this is my last column before I graduate. I was told that this column could be more reflective, and had no need of the normal intro with a random fact, but I have been supplying facts weekly for the past three terms, so I will carry on until the bitter end.
For my peers, I know that things will all work out. We will be awesome and adventurous and do great things, even if we’re not all working at hedge funds in Manhattan making a ton of money. When I think about my uncertain future, my mind goes back to what is the most quintessential game of Dartmouth, the game of champions: pong. When you’re down to a half, you can’t lose on a serve, so just keep trying. You’ll hit the table eventually.
It’s time to take stock. The things I’ve lost include but are not limited to three (three!) frackets, a pair of frat flats (foam party 12X), my dinner, my dignity, a brown cashmere scarf, my pink water bottle with the fishes on it, my Walmart bicycle. Things I’ve gained: a plethora of random facts, some wisdom, too much flair and friendships that will carry on long after we’ve left the woods of New Hampshire. I think I’ve already dispensed of most of my words of wisdom by now (see above, “three terms of random facts”). A friend once told me, “Your column’s actually really simple — it’s a lot about being nice to people.” So that’s it: the big takeaway — be nice to people and don’t forget yourself. It’s okay to suck at things, and it’s okay to quit things you don’t suck at but hate. If you’re not enjoying it, then what’s the point?
Carrying on with the idea of being nice, I think thanks are in order. Thanks to the professors, mentors and friends I’ve made along the way. Thanks to my sisters, without whom this epic undertaking would not at all be possible. Thanks for all the trips to late night, the wine, the pong, the Netflix marathons, the walks along Occom, for listening to me bitch and complain about things that were mostly my fault anyway. Thanks to the drivers of the Dartmouth Coach, without whom I (and a good portion of you, dear readers) would literally not be here. Thanks to the people at the Hinman Mail Center, and especially to that one guy who got me my package even though it was 5:05 p.m. Thanks to the janitors and custodians who work tirelessly to save us from our own squalor.
Though I will soon be gone, I hope my legacy will not be forgotten. My usual haunts — including the couches at Baker Lobby, the armchairs on 3FB, the long table by the window at Collis, the table at the Hop next to the outlet — will soon be free for someone else to sit and read the interwebs (where else do you think all those facts come from?) while procrastinating on all their homework. ’15s, ’16s, ’17s and yes, God forbid, those ’18s who might be reading this (worst class ever!), may you go on and eat too many mozzarella sticks, wax philosophical over a particular breakfast food, jump in a frozen pond for no good reason, debate dinosaur physiology while drunk, write a thesis, never read Bored at Baker, always back up your files on your computer and compose insightful, witty satires that some people won’t get. You are brilliant, wonderful people, and I wish you all the best. In my humble opinion, the bar has been set high for the next writer(s) of this column, but I have faith that you will not only match but surpass it. Because that’s what Dartmouth does: it gives you a challenge, and you rise to meet it.