Nejad: Departures from the Norm

by Saba Nejad | 10/18/17 2:10am

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Source: Courtesy of Saba Nejad

departure, n.

de•par•ture, \ di-ˈpär-chər \

(1) The distance due east or west traveled by an aircraft

I left Dartmouth a couple of days ago —Friday at 3 p.m. I was back 49 hours later looking more or less the same. Not feeling the same but definitely looking the same.

I don’t particularly like leaving Dartmouth anymore to be perfectly honest. I think after three years, I’ve finally gotten a hang of things, and I don’t feel like giving it up and going through another three years before I can say the same thing about somewhere else.

And then there’s FOMO. I have lots of it. While away on Saturday, I couldn’t stop thinking about how fun it would have been to go to Brews and Bands. But I guess you’ll never learn what else you could like if you never try anything new.

Sometimes when I get back to Dartmouth, it feels like I traveled through time. I spent time away, but it feels like nothing here has changed at all. Like Dartmouth was on pause, waiting for me to get back.

Sometimes, I get back, and Dartmouth looks the same but feels different. Maybe that’s because I am different now.

(2) The act of departing

Nothing like the word “departure” to remind a senior that she’s headed into the real world in less than a year. Time, home, the real world, graduation — it all seems so foreign.

Some avoid it, some count it down, some embrace it but we all have to face it. It’s not a bad thing, though. This departure, or rather, this early reminder of it, is to let you know that we’re all sprinting toward the finish line.

But is it a finish line? Or more like starting blocks? Where will we all be next year? Who knows. Entropy is always positive, my dudes: Nothing will ever be the same! Maybe the next time you see some of your friends here will be at your reunion.

It’s funny to think about. I remember the countdown until going home I kept during my freshman fall. It started at like 67, about two weeks after I went on Trips. It’s not that I didn’t like Dartmouth, not at all. It’s just that I really missed my dad, my old teammates and friends from high school. They were all together, and I was the only one that had decided to leave — I don’t think I even know why. But seeing them keep the connection they had made me want to still be a part of it. I really didn’t want to spend my time at Dartmouth, the best years of my life as I was being told at the time, counting down for it all to be over.

But that quickly changed. Fast forward a few breaks later, and things just didn’t feel the same anymore. Now, instead of wanting things to speed up for me to leave, I kind of wish they would slow down. But I know time won’t speed up or slow down because I want it to.

(3) Divergence or deviation, as from a standard, rule, etc.

I don’t know what it is — maybe the fact that I’m an international student, or because I’ve lived all over the place or that my brain just hates static systems — but “home” has always been this weird imaginary place to me. What is “home”? In order to depart, by definition, you need to be leaving from a place, distancing yourself from a norm or deviating from a standard.

I remember my first few weeks on campus. The rules seemed set — how people dressed, how and when they ate, how they talked or texted or interacted.

Coming to Dartmouth felt a lot like being a fullback in a rugby match. I felt alone and in danger. I would much rather be up in the line surrounded by my teammates. Being in that situation, I did what I thought was the only way to survive: I learned the rules of the game and followed them, which is what first-years seemed to be doing. What was I going to be? The physics kid? Or the athlete? Can’t I be both? Can’t I be a combination of all that I want to be? Just Saba?

I think a lot of us often feel this imaginary force to follow what people before us have done. No one sets these implicit rules, and more often than not, no one knows why they’re there. Think of Instagram, for example: You shouldn’t post more than once a day, no selfies, definitely no selfie sticks and the followers to following ration must be less than or equal to one.

One Vogue article on Instagram “rules” reads: “If your picture doesn’t get more than 11 likes, you need to take it down because it sucks. Note: This applies to users with 100 followers or more. If you are new and have fewer than 100 followers, then hurry up and get cooler. If you’ve been on there for a while and still don’t have more than 100 followers, then maybe Instagram isn’t for you. You can always try Tumblr or Myspace.”

I’ve been thinking about people that step outside of these norms, people that are courageous enough to let others see the real them. It took me a while to learn to be me. I didn’t know who I was when I was a freshman, but I have Dartmouth to thank for who I am now. I like this me a lot better.