Strangers Share Their Stories

by Mary Liza Hartong | 4/16/15 6:16pm


As children we are asked to share all the time. We’re asked to share toys with our friends, clothes with our younger siblings and tents with our fellow campfire scouts. As college students, however, we are rarely asked to share anything but a one-room double. We’ve got our own computers and our own sneakers — everything we need to be completely self-sufficient so that we don’t have to share with anyone unless we want to. This week I’m asking people to do just that, to share a little bit of themselves.

Going into this assignment of asking students to share personal and intimate details with me, I thought the worst-case scenario would be getting short answers and general information. I care about dogs, my mother’s name is Sandra, yada, yada, yada. I feared I might have to poke and prod these folks until they stomped off in protest. Yet, I found that even with questions that seemed trivial, my guinea pigs were always willing to give me true answers. They bared their souls to me in KAF, and now they bare their souls to you. Tread softly because you tread on their souls.

David Garcia ’16

What is your happiest memory at Dartmouth?

DG: When I was moving out freshman spring, my dad and I were finishing putting everything in the car and he went downstairs to put the last box in the car. He said, “I’ll give you a minute.” I looked around. It was my room in Russell Sage. I was the last one to move out of our triple. I was like, “Wow, it went by really fast.” There was a lot to take in. I had made some friends that I thought I would be with forever. I had taken some really cool classes that challenged what I wanted to do with my life. There were a lot of questions in my head as to what I wanted to do with my life, how I wanted to spend it, what I wanted to major in. I was nervous for a time, obviously with all these new questions. But I thought to myself, it’s aright. I don’t think it’s expected of me to have all these answers to the questions.

What’s something you’re proud of that others might not know about?

DG: I’m really proud of my trumpet skills — I did really well in my high school. I played first chair sophomore year after I challenged an upperclassman who wasn’t trying very hard. I loved playing jazz. I also played orchestra and classical music. That’s something I haven’t unfortunately kept up with at Dartmouth. What I did in high school was a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm. I remember my teacher used to tell me, “Stop playing so loud.” I just loved filling the room with sound. I guess I was a little cocky. Not playing freshman year and trying to pick it up again sophomore year was really difficult but it’s something that I really enjoy doing. I stopped because I wanted to come to Dartmouth with a clean slate. I wanted to try things I hadn’t been exposed to in my hometown. I also felt like I had been doing it as a routine because I had been doing it since fourth grade. I wanted to reevaluate if I enjoyed doing it or if I was just doing it because I had been doing it for so long.

Katie Botta ’17

When was the last time you cried?

KB: The last time I cried was last Saturday morning because I had had a rough night. I felt kind of dumb and upset about what had happened. Also, I had gotten locked out of my room, and my phone died when I was climbing the stairs so I couldn’t call my roommate. So I was just sitting outside in the hallway crying. Luckily my roommate had good timing and had to go to the bathroom. She saw that I was upset and really helped me out. Basically it got better once I showered.

What do you think your life will look like in 10 years?

KB: Well I know I want to have a cat by then. I’ve always wanted to have a cat but everyone in my family is allergic. I want to still be with my boyfriend. I’ll wake up. I’ll make breakfast. I’ll go to work, as a doctor. It’s unclear at the moment what kind of doctor, but what I’m thinking right now is [an obstetrician-gynecologist]. I want to be surrounded by excited, happy parents and smiles and vaginas. We’re probably married. I don’t know about kids. The whole doctor-plus-babies thing is complicated. We’re living in apartment in New York City. I’m terrified of cities, but my boyfriend has never lived anywhere else, so hopefully by then I won’t be terrified of cities. It will be cool having so many fun things within walking distance. I want to feel like I’m good at my job and I think I will be. I just hope I actually am. I also want to make sure that I’m still seeing my family frequently because I love them.

What part of your personality sabotages you the most?

KB: I’m not very good at moving on when something has hurt me or I’m afraid I’ve hurt someone else. I get very caught up in reliving it. I’m also terrible at asking for help. When I get super anxious or upset I’m bad at telling anyone about what is upsetting me or even just that I’m upset. It ends up being a self-perpetuating cycle of loneliness. I’m too sad to get out of my bed and find someone to help me and too anxious to ask. I think because everyone here is so smart and capable and so good at what they do, whenever we get “not good” at what we have to do we just don’t know what to do with that. I just don’t think we know how to handle needing help. It’s really easy for me to be like, “This isn’t a real problem — I’m just making it up,” but when it causes emotional pain it is a real a problem.

Simone Wien ’16

What’s on your bucket list?

SW: I wish I could stick with music more. That was a huge part of my life in high school. I wish I could sing. I got kicked out of chorus in middle school, which is why I stuck with instruments. Singing, especially group singing, feels really great. That’s the only instrument you need. With percussion you have to move it around, put it in a van, get it out. I was a really chronic shower-singer. I feel like because I’m in college I’m not kicking myself like, “Man, I should have done this.” I’m sure if you asked me in a couple of years I’d have a definitive answer. There’s a lot of stuff that I stopped doing that I wish I could pick up again. I’d love to be a more than decent singer, mostly because I’m currently on a kick where I listen to a cappella covers of my favorite songs in my room, and I’m, like, “Man, I wish I could sing.”

How do you think you will die?

SW: Ideally it would be old age. It’s not a particularly glamorous one. All the women in my family are in great shape. My grandma’s 91, and she’s so sharp. She’s the first person ever to call me “c--t” to my face, jokingly. I made fun of her while she was putting away the groceries and I said, “Excuse me, do you need me to help you with those.” And she told me not to be such a “c--t.” My grandmother on my dad’s side still works full-time and drives. She’s around 88 — late 80s. The funny thing is that my mom’s mom has been through breast and ovarian cancer. If they’re still kicking at this point, I think that’s good news for me. In terms of not the old age route, every time a plane lands and I’m on it, I think I’m about to die. It didn’t happen until maybe last year. Maybe I’m more anxious in college than I was before. Taking off is not an issue [nor is] mild turbulence, they’re fine. It’s something about your stomach turning and accommodating gravity. Having personal autonomy taken away is not in the list of top 10 sensations I enjoy.

How do you think people perceive you?

SW: I interact with many groups so there’s not one group I’m consistently with. I have many different faces for certain things, so I think people think I’m a hard ass. A lot of times that’s when I have to do panels or committees, or “Can you please speak on ____.” Sometimes I really don’t feel like giving a polite “No.” Just because they’ve asked politely, I don’t think that merits a polite response back. So I can see why people would think that I’m a hard ass — or maybe unsympathetic would be the word. I think sometimes people assume that whatever conventional rules of engagement we’re supposed to go by are fair. If it’s me and an idea that I don’t necessarily believe in, just because that concept is wrapped up in a nice package, doesn’t mean I need to be thankful for receiving it. I shouldn’t be thankful that I’m given a spot that’s either a token spot, or that I’m representing someone else. Then it’s like, “Why are you mad — you’re given a chance to speak?” I’m like, “Who are you not giving a chance to speak?”

Yesuto Shaw ’15

What scares you most about the future/the real world?

YS: I think what scares me most about my future is the possibility that I might start down the wrong path and find in 15 to 20 years that I’m not where I want to be and that I don’t like my job or my career and that I wish I had done it differently when I got out of college. I’m going into management consulting next year. I don’t feel like I won’t be able to change the path I’m on if I do go down the wrong path, but I would hate to waste years of my life on a career path that I won’t ultimately find to be fulfilling. I would say I’m comfortable with change, but I like having a backup plan and a backup plan for that backup plan, and if none of those plans work then I can start to get stressed out.

What do you want out of a friend?

YS: I would want someone who I find very easy to talk to, whose life I find interesting and who also finds me to be an interesting person. I would want someone who would check in if they hadn’t heard from me in a while and make an effort to hang out with me and catch up so I don’t feel like I’m forcing the friendship on my side. I like friends with very wide senses of humor who find a lot of things to be funny. I like optimistic people who always see the silver linings in situations. I like extroverted people who are willing to go into new situations. I don’t like people who complain a lot, and I don’t like hanging out with people who are judgmental of others and their ways of living. I would want my friends to be open minded and cheerful.

How do think people perceive you?

YS: I think people recognize that I’m a very extroverted person. I float around in a lot of communities, and I worry that sometimes people think I’m not interested in getting to know them deeply but that I’m just interested in getting to know them on a surface level before floating along to another community. I’ve changed a lot in college and I wonder if my friends from my first couple of years here think I’ve become too much of a different person. I hope that people perceive me as a genuine person who really is interested in getting to know them and hearing their opinions and engaging in conversation about all sorts of things.

These interviews have been edited and condensed.