Nine things I learned my sophomore year

Graphic by Natalie Kulak ’21

Graphic by Natalie Kulak ’21

BY MIA PENNEKAMP ’20 

1. One day you will finally get an A from the professor who has never given you anything but Bs. 

 

2. Don’t forget to keep up with your oldest friends. The ones who know you cold and ugly and like family. If you do forget, one of them will call you out for it on Easter in a coffee shop. She will sit across from you, wearing a leather jacket and a yellow scarf, and you’ll both tear up. 

 

3. Love is not solely music video moments, lobster rolls and twinkly lights. Sometimes it’s one person moving on and the other staying put. It’s 160 miles and five hours without air conditioning. It’s new beginnings. It’s a lot of clothes and small New York closets. It’s choosing each other. It’s patience and it’s totally worth it. 

 

4. Sometimes you will skip the gym and get drunk off sangria with your roommate instead. This is also good for your health.

 

5. If you do something enough times you might just become savvy, strong and capable. You won’t realize this until a blonde girl attaches herself to you at a bus station in Springfield on a Thursday afternoon because she feels unsafe. Sitting next to her on the bus, she’ll tell you she’s so glad she met you. She’ll say she makes friends everywhere she goes. You’ll think about the other people who’ve sat next to you on this bus. The American girl who just returned from 5 months in Korea. The boy who left Jamaica for Massachusetts to study engineering. The nurse in his early 30s with pink hair who just got back from Burning Man  —  he couldn’t believe that you hadn’t been and said that you’ve got to go west, trust him. The veteran who told you that war is exhaustion, starvation and dehydration. That it’s wet clothes and Dear John letters. It’s four-year-olds strapped with bombs, begging for Snickers bars. The same veteran who told you that he cried when his first daughter left for college, that his wife of 34 years is “the real soldier ” and that 11 years later he still reaches for a gun that isn’t there. The high school math teacher going to the city for his friend’s bachelor party. The 20-year-old drug dealer who proudly showed you pictures of his new baby. And the blonde girl who stayed close to your side all the way to New York and sat talking about weight loss, heeled booties and black skinny jeans while popping peanut M&M’s. She’ll tell you she makes friends everywhere she goes and you’ll nod and think, “Me, too.”

 

6. Obsessing over split ends is a waste of your time. Judgment is a waste of your time. Reading, dancing and making your bed will serve you better. Email the writer who you think is a rockstar even if you think she might never answer. You might end up across from her at a women’s club in SoHo as she eats granola, berries and almond milk in a leopard print coat, still managing to be relatable. 

 

7. You will never understand the phrase “like sleep to the freezing,” until you spend a night in the middle of the woods — Cape Cod in February. 

 

8. No amount of life rafts will bring back the brother who does not want to be rescued. Sending them out will only make your hands bloody. The island is too far and too isolated and too hard to see. There is only one way off and it’s choosing to swim. Let your hands heal and hope that one day he will come back to you wet and tired. 

 

9. Always take the time to talk to the mom at the salad bar who is there with her daughter on a school tour. Tell them where you are sitting. Answer all of her questions. When she asks you your opinion, answer honestly. Tell her to consider Mount Holyoke. Promise her she will not regret it. 

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