Sara Says: The Final Column

When I began this column back in September, I told you all this: I know that who I am is all that I have. That was all I seemed to know at the time that I started editing with the Provoc, and it was the main thing I had learned in college. But now, seven months later, I seem to know a little bit more—that words have a fickle way of sticking out of everything, of not wanting to bend to the circumstances you have, that sometimes they’re going to fail you, and others they’re going to run like a leaky faucet onto a page and you won’t be able to stop them.

I’ve come to know now, with all of the bravado and certainty in the world, that I was right when I started this whole thing. Who I am is all that I have, and all that I have and all that I am are words.

Words seem to have traced my entire trajectory throughout college. I’m a history major and (officially declared!) English minor, so pretty regularly I’ve found myself hunched in front of a computer pounding away at a keyboard. I have searched for them, and found them, when I’ve had a hot date with Microsoft Word and a Her Campus article or blog post or Provoc article. I have spent hours on end with the dance team when words have left me to go see something else. Words have been why I can fall asleep at night, and why I’m able to hold the folks around me with tight little hands.

And I blame you, Assumption College, for all of this. I blame the many people who have touched me, with positive rays of sunshine or with heartbreaking sadness. I blame the girls who have lived by my side for this little journey, the teams who have made my hands feel light and full, the lectures that have taken me to fantasy lands where I, from the comfort of a desk, have had the ability to see everything.

Shout out to the Provoc staff for being magical word fairies, for making me feel hilarious and for teaching me how to step into the large, large shoes that leaders often wear. My love for you is infinite, and if you need to hear about it again, check out issue seven.

Shout out to the dance team for being there when words weren’t. Thank you for teaching me how to dance and walk like a champion, how to ‘put my loser up’ in all sense of the words and for Sobfest 2015.

Shout out to 5J for being the most hilarious and unique women in my life. Thank you for the Wall of Shame, for the denim stains our dancing has left on walls and for the toxic group message that plagues my iPhone. Please stay weird. Always.

And shout out to my professors, for giving me books to read, and a whole world to explore. Special shout outs to Professor Wheatland, who gave me the worst grade I’ve gotten in 117, and for pulling out the best paper I’ve ever written in senior seminar; Dr. Kisatsky for letting me write an honors thesis about Disney, and for making sure it came out okay; Professor Land for reminding me that journalism, and writing in general, is all about talking to and learning from people you would never have gotten the chance to meet; and to Professor Hodgen. Thanks for telling me to “ruin my life” and become a writer; you—and writing—have saved me in more ways than you could know.

Thanks to the Andover High friends who never let me stop calling them home. You all are everything to me.

Thanks to Douglas, Colleen and Eric for being my first friends ever, for keeping me irrationally attached to Massachusetts, for teaching me to laugh deep in my gut and for teaching me that the earth is the greatest thing that we have and we should go out there and enjoy it. Thanks to Mom and Dad for making bill payments, high grades, extracurriculars and big dreams all possible.

Forever and ever I will always say that humility and gratitude will be the most important and most attractive qualities someone can have, so I try to pull them into my heart every morning and every night. Thank you Provoc, Assumption and everyone who has filled this space with love for always keeping me humble, and always keeping me grateful.

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Because I Don’t Know What 30 Years Feels Like: Sara Says

This past Halloweekend, I made the trek back home to be with my parents, which is baffling, I know, considering I’m a senior Valley resident. (And before you write me off as the lamest senior in America, know that this visit to Andover wasn’t all weekend—I still enjoyed Halloweekend to its fullest capacity in all of my super awesome pumpkin costume glory.) That all said, my absence Sunday morning isn’t quite as awe-inspiring as the fact that my parents have been married for 30 (yes, three zero) years.

30, as in the age Danny Tanner was in the first season of Full House. 30, as in how long the French and the Habsburgs and the Catholics and the Protestants feuded in the Thirty Years’ War. 30, as in nine years longer than I’ve been here on Planet Earth.

Holy Toledo.

So since my parents were celebrating their 30th (30!—wow!) wedding anniversary, the sibs and I all headed back to the Andover house to subsequently head up to the New family picHampshire house to eat waffles/drink mimosas/watch football/walk on the beach with them.

But this isn’t going to be the “Sara Writes About her Day in New Hampshire” column.

It’s going to be the “Holy Crap Congratulations on Being in Love Forever and Ever, Mom and Dad” column.

Because wow; congratulations on being in love forever and ever, Mom and Dad. Congrats on making the hardest, weirdest, craziest thing in the world work.

SCAN0015Because I don’t know how long 30 years feels like, but I can guess that it feels like some version of forever, that it feels like a zillion sunrises and sunsets, like an impressive amount of Christmases playing Santa Claus, like 1,600 breakfasts on the beach, hundreds of shoveled driveways. I can guess that, for the two of you, it feels pretty perfect.

I can guess it feels like four pretty fantastic kids (if I do say so myself), like 27 Father’s Days and 27 Mother’s Days, like 72 dance competitions, like a billion weekday afternoons at ski races, like nephews and nieces and grandnephews and grandnieces and more and more weddings sprouting into something special like what you have.

I can guess that it feels like a chance encounter at a dinner party, like a first date at the Chestnut Hill Mall, like evenings that started at 7:12 p.m., like a November wedding in Davis Chapel.

I think for the most part, we all disregard a lot of the things our parents tell us as kids—chalk it up to a different generation, to the new things that have popped up for people our age. But now I think there’s so much our parents teach us that we take for granted. And sure, some of that includes the things they explicitly say to us, the lessons they preach in the car on long drives or the advice they give when things go awry or the face they give you when you’re a total screw-up.

But most of it, I think, includes the things they teach us by simply being. They teach us to be noticers, to say that we’re sorry, to surprise each other while remaining predictably by each other’s sides. They teach us about what kind of love we should give and what kind of love we should accept.

So maybe I don’t know what 30 years feels like, but I hope that bSCAN0017y the time that I do, I’ll know something like this: that 30 years feels like a handful of declarations that skiing is stupid and another handful of declarations on the contrary, that it feels like a certain side of the bed and the same news station playing while I try to fall asleep, that it feels like orange juice waiting for me in the fridge in the morning. I hope that it feels like Mom and Dad.

March Madness: A Ridiculous Pasttime

March Madness. Opinion piece. You’re probably expecting me to tell you which teams I want to win, who I want to lose, and all about my bracket. I hate to disappoint, but alas, disappoint is exactly what I plan to do. I will, however, give all the basketball fans out there this: Duke’s loss was the best bracket-buster of my life. I hate Duke like I hate green vegetables (which, if you’ve ever met me, you’d know is a lot), so needless to say I was pretty amped about that.

Tournament upsets aside, I’m here to be the biggest buzzkill in America; I am here to say that March Madness is one of the most ludicrous things I’ve ever heard of. The only thing that’s “madness” about it is that people bet money on this thing! According to Time magazine, last year the total amount wagered on March Madness was $12 billion; there’s even a contest floating around out there Imagewilling to reward someone $1 billion if they make a perfect bracket. I guess everyone is entitled to where they spend and make their money, but really? $12 billion? On college basketball?

Aside from the absurd bets people are making on this thing, Time also says there is a productivity loss of between $192 million and $4 billion for companies during March Madness. I’m sorry, but what? Sure, maybe those numbers might sound stretched, and sure, it’s hard to know exactly how they calculated them, but I’m pretty comfortable saying that those numbers didn’t come out of thin air.

Even if those numbers are a little crazy, I think there’s validity in being concerned with productivity in such an absurd ritual. How productive are we really during events like this? A little show of hands: how many of you check your phones during class to check on the games and the state of your bracket? How many of you skip class to watch a game? How many of you would if you went to UConn or Kentucky or UNC? Am I right, or am I right?

I hate being the rain on everyone’s parade (just kidding… I don’t), but March Madness, and sports betting/fanaticism in general, is pretty ridiculous. I’ve said it about proms and I’ll say it about basketball too: if we all take the money and energy we spend on this thing and put it toward something good (remember that world peace thing?), think of the change we could make.

New Year’s Resolutions: Time, Failure, and the Pursuit of Goal-Setting

New Year’s Eve was a cold, biting night, and all that the windows of my friend John’s basement let in were dark rolling hills and mountain tops. Contrary to most young adults’ New Year’s extravaganzas, my friends and I were calmly slumped on couches, Imageconversation between ourselves and Ryan Seacrest flourishing. The minute hand was inching its way up toward the 12, and I grew apprehensive of the year ahead and voiced that to my friends: “You guys… I don’t have a resolution yet. This is an issue.” My remark was answered with ironic looks and cynical laughter. Because, really, why do I need a resolution anyways?

According to a recent study by the University of Scranton, only 8% of New Year’s Resolutions are even successful. Why pursue a goal only to fail? In that same study, it was cited that a whopping 31% of resolutions are romantic relationship related, and I certainly don’t want to be the type of person who measures the success of her year off of another individual’s opinion of them. “Most resolutions are too ambiguous, anyways,” my friends argue, and maybe they’re right. Maybe resolving to “live life to its fullest” won’t really get me very far anyways.

But then there’s the statistic that I can’t turn my back on: “People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions”.

Maybe not everyone will attain their goal of losing 30 pounds this year, but they certainly learned how to eat healthier and exercise. Maybe the kid who resolved to get all A’s on his report card got a B, but didn’t he learn better study habits? Become a better writer? And maybe my 2013 goal of becoming a funnier person didn’t land me as the next Aziz Ansari, but I did learn how to let thingsImage go, how to take a joke, how to spend my time enjoying life rather than worrying about it. I didn’t change my life dramatically, but didn’t I at least try? And didn’t I change it for the better?

There is a method to goal setting that says an effective goal is time sensitive, one that is expected to take a month or 56 days or an entire year. To me, that’s what a New Year’s resolution is—a goal that you want to achieve within the following year. Kudos to those who want to do that. And to all the naysayers who argue that someone doesn’t need a new year per se to make a change in their life, I want to push back on that a little bit: there’s something to be said about a globally recognized day dedicated to yearly goal setting and yearly reflection. Maybe I can start my goals some random day in May, but maybe it’s more fun to do it when everyone else is doing it.

At the very least, a New Year’s resolution forces you to pinpoint what you want to do and to turn it into something concrete. Maybe you won’t achieve it. Maybe you’ll resolve to lose weight on January 1st, and come January 2nd you’re eating a cheese stick on the couch watching Keeping up with the Kardashians. But next time you have to set a goal in other parts of your life, you’ll know how to choose a realistic goal and how to articulate it.

This year I resolve to eat breakfast every morning. Not too aggressive of a goal, sure, but I think I’m good with it. I’ve been leaving the glory of Reese Puffs and Honey Nut Cheerios out of my life for too long and I resolve to spoil my taste buds with them each morning. Someone can argue that this won’t be too life-changing or me, but I can shrug it off knowing what New Year’s resolutions really mean to me. Sure, they might not be some insane, life-altering, experience, and I’ll probably fail. But their purpose goes beyond that and stretches toward the lesson of becoming a goal-oriented person, how to reflect on failure and success, and how to reach for something in life when it really counts.