Well, this is it. The moment I have been simultaneously wishing for and dreading since I was 12 years old and my brother left for college. This is the end.
On May 4, 2014 I will — hopefully — walk across a stage, shake hands with our esteemed Dr. Craft (or DJ Willy, as I like to call him), and I will graduate from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn.
If it’s any indication of my present feelings about this era-ending event, my hands are shaking so badly as I write this that I’m about to spill my wine – I mean, juice. No, it’s 12 days until graduation; I mean wine.
Dr. Andrew Linder in the Sociology Department ended his Soc 111 course by telling the class we’d never remember everything he taught us; hell, we probably wouldn’t remember the vast majority of it. He gave about three takeaway points from the year, and that really helped me. The learning I did meant something, and I had something tangible to take away from it. That’s why I wanted to major in sociology — well, that and Scarf Boy thought Lindner was hot. No better time for honesty than now, right?
So, in the spirit of Dr. Lindner’s succinct and sensual takeaway points, I have three of my own. These are for anyone and everyone who spent or will spend any considerable amount of time on this campus. This celebration is for you.
Celebrate the Good
This one seems easy, because it should be. Instead of consistently spending time dwelling on how much time you have left, or what you have left to do, or why Dr. Lindner doesn’t love you, focus on the positives — like how much you’ve accomplished, what remaining accomplishments you have, and Dr. Olson in Psychology.
However, celebrating the good goes beyond academics. I encourage you to celebrate your time here in any and every way you can. Yes, I’m talking about joining a club or organization. Yes, I’m talking about ordering Pizza Patrol at 2 a.m. and accepting that it’s gonna be an all-nighter. Yes, I’m talking about Office Hours.
Be varied in your methods, but consistent in your efforts to be proud of every decision you make here. That way, when you look back, you’ll cherish every memory.
Celebrate the Bad
This one seems hard, and that’s because it is. We’ve been socialized to see anything that isn’t successful as a failure. If this were true, that would mean every journey that didn’t yield complete success wouldn’t mean anything.
That’s dumb, y’all.
Actually take some time and reflect on mistakes you’ve made. Things you wish you’d done differently. Situations you regret. Recognize that hidden within each of these failed ventures is a silver lining, a teachable moment, or an opportunity to laugh. While it may still hurt to think about, it can hurt even more not to learn from it.
Celebrating the things you did well is important. Celebrating the things you royally messed up is also important. However, with all this celebration-of-self, it’s easy to forget the folks who help us get to those places. Validating their contributions to your life as often as possible can help increase your understanding of how they’ve affected you, and also increase their sense of self-worth. So, to practice what I preach, I have some celebrating to do.
The PSLC Staff – Before encountering you, I saw myself as Scarf Boy. Thank you for believing in me and my abilities enough to push me toward leadership. Without your consistent patience and guidance, I can safely say my Concordia experience would have been lesser. My passions have been increased exponentially because of you.
Admissions Staff and students – This office has allowed me room to grow throughout my four years here. I have made my biggest mistakes and biggest accomplishments within the walls of the Welcome Center. Thank you one million times for allowing me the opportunity to genuinely love my work. You have set the bar for what I will look for post-grad, but I fear I will never again encounter a workplace that pushes me so hard and still cares for me so deeply.
Departments of Sociology, Psychology, Spanish, English Writing, and Religion – Whether your courses were within my major, or just hosted a particularly inspiring class, you deserve a thank you. I know I could have put more into my studies, but I know that I got an incredible amount of applicable experience from your philosophies both within and outside the classroom. Thank you for the extra effort you put in to ensure my academic experience was rigorous, fruitful, and rewarding. Oh, and also fun.
SAGA – What an inclusive family I’ve found in you. Thank you for teaching me what it means to be humble. Thank you for listening to me talk too much, cry too often, and get pissed about any injustices. Further, thank you for matching my emotions at every level and turning them into action. Thank you for making me the person I am and serving as an example of the person I strive to be. Thank you.
Forensics – What an unexpected surprise this family became. When I joined this team sophomore year, I had NO idea what I was getting myself into. Hence my leaving, coming back, leaving, coming back, leaving. But I always came back. I attribute that to the academic rigor, capacity for self-expression, and the fact that it forced people to listen to me talk for at least 10 minutes at a time. Most importantly, I always came back for the family.
Choir – A constant force in my life, this moved from being the center of my universe to an extra-curricular I couldn’t give up. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to find my voice among the crowd, and to truly illuminate the mantra of prioritizing the most important things in my life.
Finn – Your time on this earth was too small, but your time in my heart and in the hearts of so many others will be forever. Thank you for your life, for your message, and for looking over us now. Thank you for teaching me that even the briefest life can have the grandest impact. Thank you for teaching me that there can never be a time stamp on grief, and expecting one is an insult to the life lost and the lives remaining in the wake of that loss. Thank you for showing me how to love.
My family – There is not enough space in an entire book, let alone one singular paragraph, to express how you’ve impacted me. You’ve pushed me to be better and caught me when I fell. You have been loyal to me in the hardest times, and had my back when it wasn’t convenient. Our closeness is unique, and I know with all my heart that nothing will ever challenge that. Thank you for making me the person that I’ve grown to appreciate.
Finally, thank you, the reader, for allowing me to write this column. From Scarf Boy to Finnegan and every issue in between, this place has been a surprise outlet for me to say the things that were too hard to say in person, but still needed to be said. If you’ve ever read this column, are presently reading it, or will read it in the future, you are actively participating in the validation of my personhood. This is yet another way in which Concordia educates students to become the people they’re supposed to be. Please do me a favor and never forget how special that is.
My name is Colin Sullivan and I am currently a senior at Concordia College majoring in Psychology, Sociology, and Spanish. Along with my classes, I am the co-President of the Straight and Gay Alliance (SAGA) and also participate in Student Government Association (SGA), Cobber Forensics (Speech and Debate), and Choir.
My passions reside within issues of social justice and critically analyzing the ways in which Concordia and society on the whole supports diversity initiatives. I long for an environment within which one’s minority status does not pre-determine their likelihood for success.
Some other random facts about me: I am a Pisces with an inability to digest gluten. I have a debilitating fear of clowns and public restrooms and refuse to ride bicycles. I am 100% Irish, a recovering scarf addict, and my speaking voice is as loud as the average yell.
Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @csulliva09 if you want to chat. I’d love to answer any questions you may have 🙂