Omrod: On Being Genuine

The author has completed “the Dartmouth Seven of crying” — and it’s okay.

by Madeline Omrod | 5/4/17 12:15am

If I had to describe my Dartmouth experience thus far in one word, it would be genuine. It’s not always a good thing. I have gone through genuine struggles, genuine heartbreak and genuine sadness. There were many days when all I could do was lie on my dorm room bed and stare at the ceiling, questioning my purpose here and in the world. And, oh boy, have I cried.

I like to joke that I have done the “Dartmouth Seven,” but instead of having sex, I’ve cried. Outside of Baker-Berry Library, the Green, the Class of 1953 Commons, outside of Dartmouth Hall, Occom Pond, the gym, the Choates, Gamma Delta Chi fraternity … You name a place on campus, I have cried there. I think there is something very poetic about crying in public. The reality is that if you are crying in public, you are probably morose because you do not care about what other people think of you. I have received judgmental stares from onlookers.

There was this one time when I was sobbing on the phone to my mom by the printers on First Floor Berry. Perhaps 100 people witnessed me there. Innocently trying to print out their assignments, people were assaulted by the image of a crazy blonde girl weeping in the seat next to them. But then my fairy godmother ’16 had the nerve to approach me. She must have been studying and noticed that I had not stopped crying for a while. She placed a large chamomile tea from Novack Café on the table in front of me, handed me a dark chocolate bar and hugged me. She whispered in my ear, “It’s going to be okay.” In that moment, I did not think that I was going to be okay. I never got her name because she left quickly, but today I would admit to her that she was right. Everything is okay. More than okay. Great, even.

You might think that I am overly emotional for expressing my emotions in public to strangers. However, I believe that those moments were genuine and human. I was feeling pain, and I chose not to hide it. When I don’t cover up my struggles, people are much more willing to open up to me. I have made many wonderful friends of the people who were there for me at my darkest times even when they did not know me well.

At Dartmouth and in life, people should always seek to be their genuine selves. There is beauty in exposing uniqueness and struggle and extreme happiness. When many students get to college, they attempt to recreate their image. I think trying new things and discovering new talents is one of the best things about college, but we must not forget who we are at our core. Human beings are such beautiful creatures, and we shouldn’t suppress our true natures.

So please, please, please stop pretending to be something you are not. Stop pretending everything is perfect. The most genuine people are also the ones who refuse to mask their true identities. I love seeing people walk across the Green wearing crazy outfits. These outfits probably make them feel happy and beautiful and ready to take on the day.

When people choose to reveal their genuine selves, life starts to feel a lot less forced. You become friends with the people you really click with, not just the people you think you should be friends with. Don’t be afraid to approach strangers. Talk to the person in front of you in the Collis pasta line. Tell that girl in your seminar you think her taste in concert tees is really cool. Ask people about their experiences.

One of my biggest issues with the Dartmouth community is that we often like to pretend that everything is perfect. I definitely believed this fallacy for most of my freshman year. Everyone was so smart and fit, and they were acing their four classes and were in two a cappella groups and three service organizations and still managed to have time to train for that half-marathon! I felt like everyone was good at everything, and I was good at nothing. But, the truth is everyone has their struggles. This school is not easy, and life is hard and things happen. At some point or another everyone will experience challenges.

The best part about this “college thing” is that, yes, Dartmouth is hard. It is intense and stressful and humbling and scary, but we are in this together. So take the time to ask your friends how they are doing, reach out to people when you feel like everything is falling apart, and please do not forget that college is supposed to be fun. You are going to make mistakes. You are going to have embarrassing moments and seemingly life-changing failures. But at the end of the day, please always remember what my random FFB fairy godmother said to me last spring. “It’s going to be okay.”

Omrod is a member of the Class of 2019.

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