Self-Discovery Through Others
Published: Friday, May 15, 2009
Updated: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 00:01
I spent the better part of my sophomore Halloween crying, alone in my room. I'll never forget running into a group of girls who lived in my hall who decided to dress in matching outfits depicting major holidays. At the obligatory Halloween exchange of "What are you?," the one dressed as Christmas - decked out in blinking lights and fake snow - was horrified when in lieu of an answer to her question I snarled in response.
A little known fact: I applied to transfer that year. When my mom called to tell me I had been accepted to the other school (one where, ostensibly, everyone would look and act like me, and one where every new person I met could be my instant best friend) I couldn't shake a nagging feeling in my stomach.
That feeling told me that it wasn't Georgetown making me unhappy; I realized it was me. That's when I began the hard work of figuring out how to be happy at Georgetown. Like every other Hoya who has ever had a hard time among the new cultures and rituals that surround them (everyone, in other words) I found creative ways to make sense of it all, like my extremely useful "five-level bro classification scale" with categories like "bro,"mid-bro,"faux-bro,"low-bro" and "no-bro."
Last week while I was attempting to write a paper, a Senior Class Committee e-mail arrived in my inbox with "PLEASE READ" as the subject line. It was the text of a speech a fellow Hoya had given to prospective students at GAAP weekend. The e-mail promised me that if the text didn't make me want to give to Georgetown, nothing would. As I was reading the speech, I came across a quotation from E. B. White: "If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day."
In utter disbelief, I drew in my breath and looked around me. How was it possible that this speech contained the very same words that I had used four years earlier in the college essay that got me into Georgetown? Either the Senior Class Committee was freakishly good at marketing, or maybe I actually did belong at this place.
When I say that I belong at this place, I mean that during my time at Georgetown I have been honored to live and work in a community of the most creative and brilliant people I know - people who genuinely struggle between enjoying and improving the world, but who have never stopped trying to do both at the same time.
How do I describe my Georgetown community? I am proud to call my friends those students who, time and time again, have gathered in Red Square to publicly question sexist slogans in the face of enormous backlash, to wear all black in sorrow and anger during controversies involving racial bias, to rouse a crowd of hundreds to stand up against xenophobia, and to stage kiss-ins and throw paint-filled water balloons at a white canvas while fighting for the establishment of the LGBTQ Resource Center. I am even prouder of the times when those gatherings have evolved into marches into the university president's office or beyond, through the streets of D.C.
In quieter - but no less powerful - moments, I have listened and learned from students who take their faith seriously and believe that economic and social justice cannot be separated from their worship.
I am continually in awe of the workers on our campus who work tirelessly to prepare our food and keep our campus clean; and in the meantime, they still have time to stop and inquire about how I'm doing. These people love Georgetown just as much as the rest of us. Why else would they stay and fight to make our lives better when they could leave instead?
I would be lying if I said I've never thought about what my life would have been like had I transferred out of Georgetown. But I am eternally grateful that I didn't. If nothing else, Georgetown has taught me the true meaning of solidarity, of resisting forces that would keep all of our struggles separate otherwise, and of fighting alongside a community greater than my own - even in the unlikely event that a bro emancipation campaign becomes necessary.
Sarah David Heydemann is a senior in the College and a member of the Georgetown Solidarity Committee.
To send a letter to the editor on a recent campus issue or Hoya story or a viewpoint on any topic, contact opinionthehoya.com. Letters should not exceed 300 words, and viewpoints should be between 600 to 800 words.