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College: Are These The Best Times of Our Lives?

Brian Thomas ‘17, Guest Writer

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As I began my Dickinson career I had been told the cliché, “your years in college are the best years of your life.” I’m about to graduate and as I do at the end of a chapter in life I reflect.

I don’t think these past four years have been the best of my life, it’s that simple. My mental illness began to make itself more present as I became an adult, I lost any self-esteem I had previously developed, my mom was diagnosed with brain cancer before I went abroad, and I began questioning my ability to contribute anything valuable to the world.

But… The thing about he word but is that it negates anything said before it. These past four years have been tough but through all that Dickinson helped me to delve into myself and find who I am.

Finding yourself is not easy and can often be a painful experience of rejection both external and internal and sometimes you find scars you’ve chosen to forget. But I’ve found that I have value in this world and that I have the right to occupy the space I occupy. Every inch I take up, every sound I make I have a right to that. If I look at my four years at Dickinson they may not have been “the best years of my life” but they have prepared me to walk into the world knowing who I am and what I have to offer.

I’ve learned to let go of our cultural expectations of what a college experience should look like and instead am grateful for my experience, the good, the bad, the ugly. Going forward I will push myself to drop what my life is “supposed” to look like and instead own what it is. I hope people realize that to accept any situation and own is being authentic to yourself. What would your experience here at Dickinson or in life look like if you choose to live authentically?

Authenticity isn’t only about owning every part of yourself, it is how you interact with others. We have the choice to do what is best for us, but so many times I see people here doing what they are expected. Yes, you have to do things you don’t want to but when you have the choice do what is best for you.

Authentically interact with those you love and if you don’t mesh well with somebody, be cordial, but move along. If a friend messes up, grab a coffee and talk about it, texting is the antithesis of authenticity.

True, I haven’t had “the best years of my life” here at Dickinson, but I’ve learned to be authentic to myself, my experiences, and others. My time at Dickinson has allowed me to graduate with a confidence that those “best years of my life” are ahead of me, and isn’t that more exciting? Dickinson, my challenge to you is to live authentically because you just might find yourself in the process.

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College: Are These The Best Times of Our Lives?