This will probably be the first of many “thank you” posts as I find myself drawn to the concept of writing ‘letters’ again. While I toyed for awhile with the idea of writing separate entries for the different groups of people that feature in my life I have come to the decision that open letters just make more sense. They are not specifically focused on anyone but they are created for the purpose of reaching out and touching someone. Why should I limit who my posts touch?
Originally, this was piece was entitled A Platonic Love Letter to the Humanities – notice the pun I made there? Well, if you didn’t I can guarantee you that one of my HUMSCHUMS did or at least one of them will notice it now that I’ve pointed it out. Plato has been a constant in my life during second year because apparently almost everything philosophical stems from his writings. At least when you’re studying philosophy from a NeoPlatonic perspective it all comes back to Plato. One of the things I’ve learned to appreciate most about my HUMSCHUMS this year is how intelligent they are and how lucky I am to be surrounded by people with such inquisitive minds. Our core course this year focuses on philosophy and philosophical reasoning, something which has never exactly been my strong suit though I love to read philosophical texts. I used to experience a certain measure of joy when I read something that I couldn’t quite grasp but now I want to understand. I want to know because the more I learn the more I love what I am doing with my life.
However, I am still far away from the intuitive understanding that several of my classmates seem to possess. While Plato gave me trouble Aristotle was better as was Plotinus but there are students who simply got exactly what each philosopher was saying. Even more so they understood enough to ask detailed questions about the concepts we were studying. In the words of Marina Keegan I say to those people, “Congratulations and you suck.” While it’s great to have everything figured out and have your life on track it can be challenging for those of us who don’t have everything planned out yet.
I am consistently awed by the depth of intelligence that surrounds me in my classes on a daily basis. At times I find myself intimidated by my colleagues. They certainly keep me humble. They keep me on my toes and they continuously push me to up my game. When I’m struggling with a paper I can guarantee one of my friends will tell me that I’m a wonderful human being who just needs to make use of my potential. She or he will most likely also mention that being stressed is not part of my potential but a reaction to a misuse of my potential. There are others who seek out opinions on their creative projects, their professional exploits, and their paper outlines. Being asked what I think even if I don’t completely understand what someone is talking about keeps me thinking, it keeps my mind sharp, and it helps me realize that people aren’t always looking for an answer. Sometimes people just need to talk things out. My humanities colleagues are definitely good people to talk to and I cannot count the number of times that they have had my back. I often catch myself sitting in the lounge or standing around at a humanities event simply marvelling at everyone and their greatness. It’s truly a blessing to be part of the Great Books program legacy at Carleton. Every day of the week I count my lucky stars that I am part of such a wonderful community. Oh, and to end on another humanities reference, when I count my stars there are seven because in my mind life in university is sometimes like spending time in Purgatorio. Paradiso is probably more similar to grad school or so I imagine.
My HUMSCHUMS are not the only ones who have my back though. When it’s time to have a discussion about something other than the true path to happiness and the perfection that is The Consolation of Philosophy I turn to my sisters. For those of you who know me personally or really any of you who have read my About page you will know that I am biologically an only child. I have no brothers or sisters that are related to me by blood but if there’s one thing that I have learned over the past two years it’s that “Family doesn’t end with blood.” *I’ve got Supernatural to thank for that sweet quotation.
My sorority sisters have truly become my family. They will always occupy a special place in my heart. I have had the opportunity to be both a Little (little sister) and a Big (big sister) – I have been looked after and now I look out for my own Littles. It’s difficult to explain how one feels when one is part of an organization like Alpha Omicron Pi. To know that you have sisters all over the country, all over the world actually, that share your values is absolutely beautiful but must be experienced to be completely understood. My sisters have spent hours listening to me puzzle out my feelings about life, love, and everything in between.
Nothing is perfect and I will freely admit that while I love my sorority sometimes it’s difficult to remember why I like it. Except it really isn’t, because my sisters always bring me back from my frustration, any stress induced self-deprecation is met with rousing sincerity and reassurance, and no matter how sad, angry, or tired I am they remind me why I love AOII. I am consistently and constantly wowed by the amount of ambition that my fellow sisters possess – they are club executives, they work for the school, they volunteer in the community – they are my role models. When I find myself feeling exasperated with my sisters I simply take a look around me and remember that they are all just like me. We are young women just beginning out lives, we all have pressures from our families, our friends, our other relationships, our academics, and our careers. We are all in our late teens or early twenties. We’re still figuring things out! Of course we’re going to mess up but that doesn’t mean that we do not care about each other. I am so proud of my chapter, of my sisters, and of my sorority in general.
The other day I received an email from a dear sister I met at a conference in October 2014 who, over three days, certainly became a touchstone and a mentor to me. When I returned home from the conference we began to exchange monthly emails and her input has certainly helped to put my life, as well as my future, as an AOII in perspective. My Littles too have often served as reminders of what is truly important in life, namely health, sleep, and downtime instead of stress, sickness, and exhaustion. I need them just as much as they need me. I cannot picture my future without my sisters. I love my sisters and I don’t think I tell them often enough how important, inspirational, and impressive I find them. Thank you AOII for giving me the sisters I always wanted but never had before 2013!
While the humanities and AOII are two of the most prominent communities I am part of there are others aside from my immediate family (sorry mom and dad you won’t be featured here – I’d have to write another thousand words at least) who ground me. I have over 73 sisters in my sorority chapter alone, including alumnae but there is one man I proudly call my brother. He’s an engineer in training who has big ideas, a great bark (yes, you read that correctly he can imitate a dog), and a ‘can do’ attitude that remains unmatched by anyone I have ever met. He has been there for me through so much and I want to thank him too. He is the one I turn to for serious conversations though we’re not above sharing ridiculous Youtube videos with each other. This is the latest one he sent me: www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbdvogFyZZM
I have another friend who never shies away from sending me videos, sometimes she does so repetitively until I watch them and report back to her about what I thought of them. She is the one I would go to if I needed to hide a dead body Downtown Abbey style. She is the one who balances me – she’s in accounting, I’m in arts – together we’re a pretty great team. I’m lucky to have her and sometimes I don’t think she realizes how much I need her and how much I depend on our hang out time to just chill out.
Finally, when I was just a young child I met a blonde girl who was born in August. Now that girl is a woman, she keeps her hair red to match her creative personality and she lives far away from me but after all this time she’s still my best friend. She was probably one of my first friends too now that I think of it! She’s pursuing her dreams and through that she encourages mine. We still think alike at times and despite the ocean between us her influence has never left my life.
For those of you who have just stumbled upon this blog you should know that this past academic year has most certainly been a challenge for me. I have been tested, I have been stressed, and I have been subject to existential crises almost daily. What keeps me from having a total breakdown or losing sight of my own goals are the people that ground me and I keep forgetting to thank those people for everything that they are doing. Even if all they do is smile at me it helps me keep going, to keep moving, and to keep dreaming. While the ones I have mentioned specifically are by no means the only ones who flank me on this quest of life to thank everyone would require a whole blog in itself. I am grounded, I am here, I am present, and I am who I am today because of those people. So, to those of you reading this think about your life, think about your friends because I can guarantee that you are not making it alone. Take a minute, take a second even to thank them and stay grounded my dear readers.