Ayushi Agarwal, Photo Editor
By Hannah E. Conway
This morning, I went to brunch with a professor from my sophomore year, whom I consider my mentor, and my classmate at the time Ryan, who has since graduated and kept in touch. Among cups of coffee and orange juice, scrambled eggs and Atlanta biscuits, I confessed my fear of the future, to which my professor looked up and calmly responded with a perspective not yet afforded to me, “Don’t make a judgement on the quality of your life when you’re in a transition period.”
“The change is going to be hard,” Ryan added.
This is the same professor who, when I sifted through the course catalog each semester and asked her whether or not I should take classes that were gratuitous for my degree but still excited me, told me, “You’re going to be stuck in your mind for the rest of your life, so you might as well make it an interesting place to be,” and the same Ryan who, when I needed someone to soothe my apprehension caused by a year-long deliberation about whether or not to apply to law school told me, “The act of making a decision is much more important than the decision itself. Just move forward.” I trust both of them immensely.
I suppose one of the more distressing premises of graduating is the anticipation of transition — amidst the pomp and circumstance and regalia, senior bar-hopping nights and final Greek formals, there has been an undercurrent of uneasiness, stemmed not from a lack of readiness, but rather from the expectancy of change. Sometimes I can ignore, or at the very least, distract myself from the anticipation of it all, but other times there are glaring reminders of its soon-to-be arrival, like earlier today, when, for the billionth time, I tried to renew my 19 student library loans online, some of which have been checked out since the beginning of junior year, and, for the first time, wasn’t allowed to. Printed on the spine of those 19 books are the names of some of my favorite writers, like Mary Karr and Junot Diaz, who, through metaphor and story, have told me time and time again that change is hard, a phrase which I am just beginning to understand as more of a hard-earned truth than a literary trope or maxim.
The moments in which the anticipation subsides are when I can focus on being grateful for my current frame of reference, rather than the one I can’t see yet. Incidentally, this week, I also went to coffee with a freshman, a meet-up scheduled by my adviser who, in an e-mail noted that our “interests overlap remarkably” and was hoping I could talk to her about my research, my experience in the major and relevant resources and faculty. Sitting outside Starbucks on Oxford Road, I felt a sense of continuity — any fourth-year jadedness I had toward school was extinguished by her excitement and vigor toward all the classes she has yet to take. Among iced lattes and a blueberry muffin, she confessed her fear of not being able to be all her possible academic selves, of abandoning her love of statistics for her love of anthropology, to which I calmly responded with a perspective not yet afforded to her, “You don’t have to. It will all work out.”
Of what I’m most certain is, come three years, the fabric of that student’s mind will be more intricately webbed than it is now — that her already boundless curiosity will continue to grow with pithy quotes from overdue library books, moments of laughter sitting with friends on Cox Bridge at twilight and encouragements from professors over brunch.
My hope is that, when she too is on the brink of transition, she will find solace in this arsenal of memories — in the perspective she already has.
To her, I pass the baton.
Hannah Conway is from Los Angeles and served as the Wheel’s Spring 2016 Arts & Entertainment editor. Starting in August, she will work as a strategist for BrightHouse, A BCG Company.