Oh SH*T It’s Happening Soon: One Senior’s Reflection on Leaving Swarthmore

Today, at the end of my honors seminar, tears welled up in my eyes. In anticipation of an impending flood, I quickly packed up my readings and left. I exited Pearson, but didn’t make it far—had to settle for a worn, raw Adirondack chair—before I started to sob. I put earbuds in and listened to a playlist* I compiled during the fall of my freshman year.

Do you remember what you were like as a freshman? I was a mess. I was a shell of a person—was away from home for the first time, had just broken up with a manipulative high school boyfriend, and was fresh out of an awful bout of depression. Despite overflowing with panic attacks, social faux pas, and a general air of franticness, Swarthmore embraced me that first year. I found a family in Vertigo-go, intellectual fulfillment in my classes, chemistry help from the Alchemists (couldn’t have done it without you—hugs and kisses to infinity), warmth from the trusty steam heater in my Hallowell double, and satiation from pasta bar.

Sophomore year, Swarthmore loosened her loving embrace just enough to lift me up. I found healing and inspiration at the Title IX House, where I started to volunteer; got Swat married (not real married, don’t worry Mr. Boyfriend) to the dude who is currently my best friend; I received the Lang Scholarship after weeks of application-writing and wrote a hasty sophomore plan to declare a major in psychology.

Junior year I fell in love with honors seminars. I lived in a single on the all-female hall in Dana that had an exquisite view of the Crum and really felt like home. I gained a best friend and lost a boyfriend (temporarily—phew!). I also floated through two thrilling and surreal love affairs, learned how to lift weights, got a (near) six pack, and planned incessantly for my Lang project. I felt like an adult and, for the first time in my life, found an anchor inside of myself.

First semester of senior year was all about work, in a good way. I created a sexual violence prevention program with the fraternities. I read more pages per week than I had in any other period in my life, collected data for my thesis, and only vaguely thought about “the future.”

But yesterday, after I completed my first job interview, it suddenly hit me—my time at this college is running out. Swarthmore, you are beautiful. Your landscape takes my breath away, your students and alumni inspire me, your faculty challenges me, your staff nurtures me, and your essence ignites within me a passion to think, learn, engage, and create.

I don’t claim Swarthmore is perfect, but she has been so, so, so good to me, and I will miss her deeply when I leave. I love you Swarthmore and am eternally grateful for all you have given me.

*https://open.spotify.com/user/raeraerascal/playlist/4djjAncfeJYnhMG4Y6JMJO

Featured image courtesy of Raven Bennett ’17


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One comment

  1. 0
    L '17 says:

    I’m feeling it too – like there’s not enough time to be grateful for all the ways I’ve learned here. Though our experiences have been so different, it was beautiful to read about your path here and then to reflect on my own. Thank you for writing.

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