Joe Kind, A Guy
“Started from the bottom, now we here.
Started from the bottom, now the whole team f---ing here.”
Drake is a prophet. We all know this. In some respects, though, he fails to describe my life well. I didn’t start in the six with my woes, but to his credit, the pace of my life has sped up considerably since starting college — probably not quite 0 to 100, but maybe from cruise control to slightly above the speed limit?
First of all, it is a huge honor to be writing a column for The Mirror this year. I can only imagine the pride my high school English and history teachers must be feeling at this moment. Assuming they are reading this, that is. My teacher recommendations came from both of my favorite teachers in those departments, and to this day I think that there is a strong correlation between what they must have written about me and my ultimate acceptance into this fine woodsy institution. I should do a better job of keeping in contact with them.
For my part, I have reached out to one of them before to try to set up a lunch. A coffee is probably more appropriate, but I try to avoid caffeine. The prospect of getting a coffee with someone sends a bit of a tingle to my shoulders. It feels like going to a steakhouse and ordering the one seafood option, I am just lying to myself by being there.
Most people I meet continue to be baffled by the lack of coffee in my life. My friends, my parents, you name it — coffee matters to them. Not drinking coffee somehow places me in this otherworldly tribe of people. I am already a Chosen One, like Drake. Also like Drake, I am proud to have been Bar-Mitzvahed. Proud to still remain somewhat engaged with my faith, even if only in the corners of my life. For I must admit, these days it’s all about school, swimming and the job hunt. Oh, the job hunt. I’m pretty sure I’ll start drinking coffee regularly this term. (That or white wine, let’s be honest.)
I think back to the start of my Dartmouth career — move-in day, 2012. So weird to even remember that the same year I graduated high school was also the same year I started college. I think of those two moments as two very distinct and distant times in my life, despite how close they really were. In a lot of ways I wasn’t ready for the College on the Hill. I wasn’t ready for a roommate (sorry again, Jordan), and I definitely wasn’t ready for Division I athletics (thanks again, coaches). I was kind of ready for Division I academics, as I like to call them. (This was before “academic rigor” was a thing, mind you.) I was not, however, ready to pick only three of the amazing classes offered each term (UGH).
The hardest part of my freshman fall was not adjusting to any one thing in particular. It was trying to juggle it all — something I thought I had done a good job of in high school. I guess the balls got bigger and heavier in college.
One of my fondest memories of my freshman year comes from a swim practice. What else, really, knowing me? Especially given my limited background in the sport, anyway. My teammates can attest that my first year of college athletics was largely built around Darwin’s theories of evolution — I worked hard not to fall victim to natural selection. My end goal throughout the year was to finish the season. Survival of the f---ing fittest. I wanted to give myself the opportunity to have an outstanding end-of-season meet and obliterate my best times after so much hard work. I had less than a year’s worth of club-level experience, which isn’t so common in college athletics. I was only a sprint freestyler, having transferred over what swimming experience I had developed playing four years of high school water polo. Sometimes I still miss water polo (but that’s for another column). Anyway, back to my memory.
You can imagine how I felt when, in the middle of a regular practice one fine October morning, that the entire team was to complete a 3,000-yard swim for time. I had never swam more than 500 yards without stopping. In everyone’s best interest, I will spare you dear readers of the gruesome details. Needless to say the swim did not go over well.
But in some ways, because I was so woefully unprepared for the test, the swim went over about as well as it could have for me. It’s all relative, after all.
Dartmouth has taught me a lot about relativity. Even beyond swimming, it is amazing to think of how far I have come over the course of my three years here. Dartmouth has made me a smarter, sharper person — a much more engaged, global citizen, per se. Yet it has also made me meaner than I was in high school. I am way more standoffish, way less friendly. The College, at times, has magnified my imperfections to a scorching degree. There’s something about these cold temperatures.
I take back what I said earlier. Drake is not at all a prophet. When it comes to my Dartmouth experience, he got it wrong. He should have sung:
“Started from the upper-middle top, made it to the bottom, but now I’m kind of back where I started.”
And now we are here.
I should have just compared my Dartmouth experience thus far to that of Odysseus. Will I survive to reunite with my family at the end of this long, treacherous journey???
I’ll ‘keep you posted.