By Julian Weiss, Opinions Editor
I write often. My history classes alone call for somewhere around four pages a week between exams and essays. In my free time, I write articles here and sometimes for my blog. Last week, I had two unique opportunities to write in a way that was very different from my normally-analytic, rational process. I rarely write about myself outside of cover letters. It is even more rare that I take time to reflect on my life and on the many things that had to come together to bring me to where I am now. In writ-ing both of these personal, reflective writings, I had to take a deep look into myself. Afterward, I felt relaxed, unconcerned about my up-coming essay which I had not begun researching, my impending thesis due date, my first interview of the season or any of the other important yet impersonal things which make up my professional life. Instead, I felt like a person again.
Dan Jones, New York Times’ ‘Modern Love’ columnist, had a call for es-says from college students about what it meant to love in the modern world. At first I was more enticed by the offhand chance that I would get published, or even mentioned, by the Times. As I wrote, though, I realized that I hadn’t actively thought about love in my life in a long time. It took some effort to remember past relationships, flings, romances and relate them to my personal growth. Some of those relationships I actively tried to forget, but others just faded from my mind over time.
The essay had a cap of 1,700 words. I thought it might be a struggle to get there, but after a while I stopped forcing myself to use flowery language and exaggerated allegory to rep
licate the funniest, saddest, and most ‘modern’ moments in the short history of my love life. I stopped caring about the contest at all. I was just happy to sit there and reflect on some of the most intense and personal experiences in my life, then write them down for Dan Jones to read. After a while, I even began cutting out the sad and trying moments. That wasn’t really what those relation-ships were about, even if its what ended them. By the time I reached 1,700 words, I hadn’t even reached 2014. I cut out a few sentences so I could sum up the last two years of love in my life, and I felt great. I realized that I had come through all of the trials and tribulations of these relationships to a place where I am very happy.
The other writing was less out of opportunism than sadness. In a completely unexpected turn of events, Residence Life decided to close down Funk House the week before Spring Break, suddenly dropping their acceptance of a roster to place students in what used to be Peace and Justice House. I was crushed to hear that Residence Life was taking the opportunity away from future students to have a diverse, nonjudgmental space, so unlike much of the rest of this often harsh, clique-y campus. I had to act. With the help of some close friends, we wrote and collected personal letters about the positive impact the house has had on our personal lives and college careers. I had lived in Funk two years, minus a semester abroad. I had made some of my closest and strongest friendships there, and always had a place to call home in Gettysburg.
Again, writing about my experience in the house became more than just trying to get Residence Life to see why I cared so much about it. We collected more than thirty letters and clearly made an
impact on Residence Life’s appreciation of the good that Funk House has done on this campus, but I also got the chance to reflect on my career here at Gettysburg. I had come in as an awkward, introverted freshman. I hated most of the people on my floor, unjustly as I would later find out. I had no place on this campus to be myself, instead feeling the pressures of the exclusive party culture. When I found Funk, all those presuppositions disappeared. I could be myself there, and I grew into a confident student. I began to appreciate the people on my floor who, although unlike me, still offered endless stories and entertainment.
Funnily enough, if it weren’t for Funk House being shut down this year, I would never have been given that chance for self-reflection. After meeting with Residence Life and presenting the letters, many of which had similar sentiments to my own, they agreed that these thirty plus experiences could not be ignored. They had already planned on giv-ing Funk the opportunity to reapply next year, but now they seemed certain that with some modifications, the House could have a visible, strongly positive impact on Gettysburg’s campus.
If I’ve been rambling, just attribute it to a sentimental senior who has just reflected on his years at College and his relationships while there. But there’s a point to all this: I want you to write. Not write an essay for class or a blog post about something new you find interesting.
I want you to write about you. It doesn’t even have to be shown to anyone. Consider this your opportunity, your New York Times essay contest, your motivation to protect what you love. Write about yourself and in the process, rediscover what makes you you.