Thanksgiving comes at a terrible time in the semester. It leaves us just a week to come back, which is certainly not enough time to settle back into school mode after having fun or seeing family or just sleeping for four days straight. It is a maddening thing. And then, finals start — the screaming at midnight before that scary getting into rooms and trying to show people that you have efficiently memorized all sorts of things that you may or may not remember six months from now. Right before that, though, there’s the last day of classes and, for me, a final column to wish you all well and good before you go on to try and finish this semester with a little dignity (or a lot of Four Loko, depending on your taste).
And there is something difficult about that. These little newspapers printed today will be hanging around for the next five weeks or so. Sometime in January, students will come back early for whatever students come back early for (fraternity/sorority rush in this terrible Ithaca cold, some internship, or doing research) and this is the thing they’ll read as they hang out waiting for the bus because they don’t want to go outside. And you might even be reading this during your last lecture or lunch or whatever. There’s closure in the last day of classes for a semester. It wraps up, as well or as terrible as it does. You change routines; you get ready for a year’s end.
Wrapping up this semester is difficult from a personal perspective. It has, in many ways, been the most difficult semester of my life. Growing up is hard, being a senior and freaking out about life is hard. Then again, I have been able to identify a number of things that I think are important. So, Pink-style, I raise my glass for this semester, and toast to the things that have made this time memorable.
I raise my glass to resilience. If there is something we learn at Cornell (as the Caring Community would say), it is not only to ask for help, but to help ourselves. To help ourselves keep up with it all, learning to overcome the overwhelming amount of decisions we must make, choosing, and sticking with those decisions. From deciding when we leave for break, to what courses we’re taking next semester; from deciding whether to procrastinate or actually study for that final, to choosing the parties or lack thereof filling our weekend, we learn to live with what we do. And if things go wrong, we are learning to live with that too. So cheers to hanging in there, because it will get better. It always does.
I raise my glass to friendship. If there is something you need to do here, it is make friends. Real ones. The type of friends you are not afraid to call at any time, for anything. The type of friends that will stick it out with you no matter what. Those that, regardless of understanding what you’re going through or not, will be there for you, whether to kvetch, pretend to study or philosophize about whatever life is like right then. To the friends that will let you cry and let you laugh and allow you to develop the complex and often contradictory conclusions on life that you come up with after days of intense sleep deprivation and stress. To the people that have been there, in the big and the small ways, thank you. Many times, we can stand on our own. But there is strength, power and happiness in standing together. Don’t be afraid to share yourself with others, to be vulnerable. Bonds are made when you’re not afraid of being weak ... there’s strength in not being afraid of showing what you are.
Finally, I raise my glass to you (yes, you) because if you’re reading this, you’re here and you’ve made it to your last day of the semester! (Woohoo!) And, whatever it is you have to do or worry about over the next few hours/day/weekend/week, you are taking the time to read something that is not related to school and is giving you some time to feel all nice inside at this small, but temporally salient, achievement. Go ahead and enjoy it. It’s one more semester here, maybe the first, maybe the last, maybe somewhere in between. After today, the small routines change, and you get ready for something new, something else. Get excited. Breathe in and savor the potential for enjoying the possibility of sleeping in at least for tomorrow, for the upcoming break, or even for taking a test that you will actually have fun taking. Then, breathe out, and go on to whatever it is you’re going to do right now (including reading the rest of The Sun, if that’s your thing). But go and enjoy it. It’s what it’s all about, remember?
Cheers to you, and best of wishes. See you in January!
Florencia Ulloa is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at email@example.com. Innocent Bystander appears alternate Fridays this semester.