For first-years, it’s now been three weeks of “what’s your name”, “where are you from”, and “where do you do live”. Yet nine days of orientation, four days of AESOP, and eight days of classes are still not enough to shake off these semi-awkward and semi-superficial introductory conversations. But who can blame us? How else are we supposed to navigate through college social life and new environments that require us to do our own laundry?
Last week, I signed up for a plethora of clubs, too many to keep count of. Somehow my name ended up on the Merimanders email list and I can’t even sing. I think all of us freshmen are just trying to find our niche and maybe I’ve already found mine in this newspaper, but that’s something I’ll learn by the end of this article. We all know we have stories to tell, talents to show, and energies to express, but we don’t know where to start.
I don’t know where to start writing. I’ve been thinking about the topic of my “first article” this entire week and now it’s Sunday. It’s almost 7 pm, I haven’t started any of my homework, and here I am just word-vomiting away.
I debated writing about Bernie Sanders, but maybe it’s too early to be political. I also thought about chronicling the 80’s dance, but I couldn’t bring myself to conjure up anything more profound than “we danced”. I almost wrote about my favorite study and hang out place on campus, but I think I’d like to keep that a secret. Today, as my last resort, I decided to visit The Bates Student website to get at least the slightest idea of what to put on paper and there it was––– “The Art of Saying Goodbye.” In this article, Bates alum Sarah Rothmann ’19 shares her difficulty of moving on and ending things the right way. Rothmann wrote, “When I reach the final paragraph of an essay, my laptop’s cursor blinks for days before I am able to finish tying my prose together.” As I read it, I realized that sometimes “hello” can be just as hard as “goodbye”. First words are daunting like final ones. Freshmen are met with a blank page and a mind filled with scattered expectations. How will we choose to paint, write, dance, play, and experiment? How do we say hello to four years of our future?
There’s no perfect way to introduce yourself nor is there a perfect way to become introduced to Bates. While writing this, I’m letting my hands do more talking than my head and that’s ok. Even if you’ve taken the smallest step forward into your Bates career, you’ve still started one. Rothmann said, “Final words are never fully final. They open new doors and lead to more inquisition and ever-expanding growth.” New beginnings don’t only give you one chance to make an impression, meet people, or become involved on campus. You have plenty more hellos to give and plenty more opportunities to seize in the upcoming years.
This is my small step of a “hello.” Hello to late nights on weekdays and late nights on weekends. Hello to our sundae ice cream bar. Hello to the little ducks of Lake Andrews. Hello to the hanging hammocks on campus. Hello to all the clubs I signed up for but will, unfortunately, not be able to attend. Hello to an entire year of exploring what I am interested in. Hello to cooking meals with clubs, going to Portland with friends, and stealing mugs from Commons.
It turns out that the right way of saying hello is just by saying “hi.”