Brionna Jimerson | Respect Your Elders
73 Days — but who’s counting?
One of my best friends’ Twitter byline reads, “May 19, 2013, 11:30 a.m. in the J Field,” the time and place of his graduation ceremony. I think he is over the 76 Days celebration.
Anyway, last Sunday we celebrated the 76 Days Celebration after Blizzard Nemo pushed back the 100 Days Celebration to last Sunday’s less symbolically trendy date, and members of the class of 2013 (and some subversive and hungry 2014 kids) filled the Alumnae Lounge, dressed in the most semi of semi−formal and ready to mingle awkwardly with classmates. It felt like pre−frosh orientation all over again, except this time there were free Jumbo magnets, sunglasses, portfolios and muffulettas.
I did a couple of laps, talked to some acquaintances, gave awkward hugs to folks I haven’t interacted with since freshman year, stood around a table with my friends, made firm plans to get lunches and dinners (finally! No more “should!”) and watched the slideshow of photos that all looked the same. It took a while for the gravity of the moment to sink in — that in 76 days I would be referring to Tufts in the past tense, and my friend’s Twitter bio would come to fruition. While we are angst−ing it out over the next few stress−filled weeks, my friend is planning — at the ready and excited — to put Tufts in his rearview. But how did we get here?
The 76 Days Celebration probably had good intentions — an excuse to enact “tradition” and get us all feeling warm and cozy about our Tufts career, just in time for alumni giving, before we forget some of the emotional and physical trauma that accompanies growing as people in a foreign environment on our own. We were nostalgic for 2009 in that lounge, but tradition and the whole thing is making me feel claustrophobic, like there’s something expected of me, and unless I agree with all of the fluff I’m unworthy, when in reality I’ve worked my ass off, and it’s a celebratory time. I’m alive. We’re alive. Where is the dance floor?
I expect that I will feel more anxiety in the coming weeks than I felt in the whole of 2012. The countdown was initiated on the day I boarded the plane for pre−orientation in August 2009, and now I am coming out on the other side (yes, I have been in a portal−bubble for four years). The event may have been good in its intentions, but in my experience initiating countdowns brings with it the “should,” and we know how useful that is. But I don’t feel tethered to the Hill, the dining halls, the traditions; I’m ready to practice what I’ve been learning and to see what sticks. I’m ready to live on my own terms, sans a block schedule. Cue the claustrophobia.
When it’s “tradition” time, we don the brown and blue in the name of “community.” I think of my friends at Tufts, many of whom I’ve seen fall apart and shed themselves, only to come out stronger — and traumatized, to be honest — on the other side, ready to pack Tufts up and run for greener (and hopefully less steep) hills.
Between the celebrations, senior nights, senior dinners and other forced and inauthentic bonding moments, I’ve realized that so much time has lapsed between mindlessly wandering to the dining halls three or four times a day (remember when that was an option?) and now, fretting over projects, research, financial security and the simple things, like where the heck do we go from here? I motion for a collective nap and reassessment of life. Who’s with me?