Dear 2017: Watch Your Character

mattdefaultMatthew Henry Smith ’16

Dear Class of 2017,

Watch your character.

Last night I was sitting by an ethereal hearth of friendship with some beloved fellow Friars. The course of our jovial conversation was interrupted by a heavy question. It was one that had been weighing on me for a while.

I asked my friends if they felt they were better people now or if they felt they were better people back in high school. After a raw discussion we determined this: college is a challenge.

Right now you must be thinking, “No shit, Smithlock.” But keep reading.

You need to understand that college is a challenge because despite what you might think your mettle has hardly been tested, and college, even one that exists within this PC bubble and behind these safe black gates, will test you.

If you haven’t already, you will be swept up into a whirlwind of academia and social constructs, potentially accelerated by alcohol and definitely exacerbated by sexual tensions. It will be hot, it will be electric, and there won’t be a moment provided for you to look and see if you left yourself back at Orientation.

If you lose yourself, it’s not as easy to put it all back together as Philip Philips might have depicted in his effortlessly ambiguous melody. So let’s not get to that point.

Because rule number one is don’t wait for rock bottom. Don’t wait until you’ve earned an unflattering reputation. Make the time to reflect on your character, your behavior and how you are changing. If you make this a habit, I think you’ll be pleased with your evaluations. When a personal crisis hits, write down everything you are experiencing. Set it aside and save it. Integrate these writings in your future evaluations. After all no experience, good or bad, is disposable.

Rule number two is: make sure every lesson you learned about kindness and love from children’s books and movies is readily available. You are no longer on familiar ground, and those lessons aren’t common sense anymore. Kindness is not so easy. Love is hard to begin with, and harder when you realize how your parents managed to love you so much, and how they aren’t downstairs in the kitchen making dinner now.

That’s it. Two rules. Easy right? College is a challenge, so I’m keeping it simple. And I’m keeping these rules for myself, too. Let’s get to it, 2017.

God Bless,

Matthew Henry

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