As I sit on this rattling bus hurtling down Mass Pike, I feel overwhelmed. In the best way possible. It’s not out of a fear for what the future holds, which, trust me, is an all too common feeling, but instead out of this novel, though not unwelcome, feeling.
It hits me when I think of the university I’m oh-so-fortunate enough to attend. A few weeks ago, some of the brightest Chinese high school students descended upon Harvard’s campus to get a taste of our lives. To travel halfway around the world for a tiny glimpse of what being a student here is like. And I saw their hopeful faces light up with amazement after showing them Widener or Memorial Hall (but not upon showing them my dorm :)). It was refreshing to see the campus, the history, the bubble in which we cocoon ourselves, with a different, unjaded perspective. The things people would do and have done to get into this institution – the vastly more qualified, smarter, kinder, more talented students – and somehow they let me in.
The thousands of courses, the countless support systems that are put in place to help us grow as young adults, the campus organizations we can (try to) join, and the seemingly infinite resources at our fingertips. They’re all great. Fantastic. Literally life-changing. But wow, the people here. How do you even begin describing such a diverse, passionate, and eager collection of human beings? Human interaction has become thoroughly more enjoyable in the past few months.
Through meeting people who fall along every point of every possible spectrum, I’ve changed – affected and molded by those around me.
Optimism has become a higher priority than material success. Feeling the now is more important than perfecting the future. And realizing the overarching good in humanity is so key to staying motivated in this especially challenging time. Listen to those around you, support those who need it, and spread good vibes whenever and wherever possible. The path of least resistance would be to shrink back into our safe worlds with passive acceptance, to remain stagnant, instead of embracing dynamism. Remember this, for it is easy to forget.
It is easy to forget. Especially considering the challenges that have arisen within the Harvard community and outside of it. The divisive HUDS strike that was seemingly unresolvable. The men’s soccer and cross country teams and their inexcusable words. The presidential election. Campus has been a bit more downcast and disheartened than usual, I suspect. But these hurdles are exactly that – hurdles. Like the strike, there is still time to work towards peace. Solutions can be reached and hopefully society will recover and rebuild as a result.
Connection has played a big part in my first few months at Harvard. Between people, places, ideas, emotions. The same core sources of happiness, anxiety, dreams we share with strangers and friends alike. And how we can bond so quickly over them. I’ve seen others struggle with (and personally experienced) a plentiful helping of insecurities. It’s wild to think that such high-achievers and brilliant people may have such mental barriers too. But it’s normal; it’s human. And the beauty of our vulnerabilities is that while they often consume us, making us feel so alone, so fearful, so sad, they also serve as surprising connectors. Who hasn’t been insecure about their abilities, aspirations, upbringing, appearances? About social, academic, other personal issues? The similar experiences we all share allow us to empathize more effectively with those around us.
And so, I am grateful. For new friendships and old ones, too. For selfless peers. For late nights and psets that try to teach us things we apparently should know. For beautiful sunny days in the Yard. For free speech and evolving opinions. For generous and giving floormates. For Annenberg’s winter squash and salted caramel pretzel soft serve and stained glass windows. For family. For people who accept (and hopefully are amused by) my quirks. For progress and change. For Harvard. And so much more.