Questions for my Sophomore Self

911 lightsWhile I value all students and stages, there’s something special about a sophomore. The second year in college gives the confidence of a repeat performance with a clear ripeness for growth. But the flip side of this stage is a bit of unsteadiness. The word itself betrays its’ truth – a sophomore is a knowledgeable fool.

My sophomore self lived in New York, assigned an off-campus NYU dorm in the Financial District. Similar to the Vern Express, I waited each morning for the bus to take me through the city streets. Thirteen years ago today, in the shadow of high rises, I didn’t understand why flyers were showering down upon us – was this a new marketing approach, sending papers to the New Yorkers below?

It’s funny the questions we ask ourselves when the world doesn’t make sense.

I’m an open book but 9/11 is the rare topic I can’t quite confront. Each year, the anniversary arrives and I only let blips of memories in – the 9:30 class on urban education that went on as scheduled with no acknowledgment that the world was falling apart outside, the shopping trip to Filene’s Basement when I wasn’t able to go back to my dorm room for clothes for two weeks, the smell of fire that emanated from our closet for months after we finally did. I’m 13 years removed and I still feel something in the pit of my stomach as these words leave my fingertips and land on the computer screen.

A professional choice to work with college students means you circle back to your college years on a fairly regular basis. You revisit your good choices and bad ones, your high moments and your low. You attempt to use what you learned to share with your students while equally honoring the fact your experiences should have no bearing on anyone else’s.  Instead of prescribing advice, I aim to ask questions; the goal of the blog is to ask questions of YOU, but in reality, these posts start with questions to myself.

So I ask my sophomore self, the woman with harsh knowledge of the world but enough foolishness to not quite know what to do with it – and I ask you, too: How can you find a way to mourn a loss, even if it isn’t directly your own?  How might that loss stay with you, and what can you do with it?  Who is all around you to connect and to process, to own that your conception of the world is changing everyday?

Here’s to a safer world, to an optimistic view of it, and to good coffee dates & connections to help us take it all in.

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