As my second year at Bryn Mawr winds to a close, I figured I might as well reflect on all that I’ve learned and done this year. Though sophomore year might seem like it would be more comfortable and familiar than freshman year, Bryn Mawr has continued to challenge and surprise me. At Parade Night, I welcomed the baby greens to campus and tried to adjust to the new spot at step sing. I joined the executive board of the literary magazine and started working as a banter blogger. First semester, I took anthropology of globalization, the history of narrative cinema from 1945 to the present, a French class on the influence of the environment in early 19th century literature, and, at Haverford, an environmental anthropology course about the Arctic. I was juggling way more work than I’d had to do freshman year, but my professors and classmates kept me invested in learning as much as possible.
In October, I declared my major in anthropology and realized that I didn’t want to study abroad, I wanted to do an independent major in film studies. I celebrated Halloween as Daphne from Scooby-Doo and went behind the scenes of Lantern Night as a runner. In November, I changed my hair, turned 19, and tried to cope with some major changes in my social life. One of the things that made this year feel really difficult at times was the number of my close friends who took time off from school. Leaving college or thinking about transferring is a terrifying and stressful process, and it takes a special kind of bravery to admit that sometimes you just need to give it all a rest. When Bryn Mawr felt overwhelming, I got to know Philly better and I learned how much I appreciated my incredible support system of friends. I got super sick as finals approached, and tried to teach myself that it’s okay to ask for help when it’s needed. After enjoying the Star Wars Banquet and powering through my finals, I enjoyed a nice, long winter break.
I couldn’t have been happier to get back to Bryn Mawr in January. I started to see my independent major really coming together and I enjoyed my new set of classes: sex on screens, probability and statistics, understanding poetry, and museum anthropology. Even though there had been huge changes made to “Welcome the First-years Week” (formerly and continuously known as Hell Week), I knew that the spirit of my favorite tradition was still intact. As the head sophomore traditions representative for my dorm, I helped make sure it was a great time for the first years of Rhoads South. I loved getting to hell my two babies and share with them some of the things I love most about Bryn Mawr.
During March and April, I struggled to make my independent major dreams come true while trying to find something to do over the summer. This year involved a lot of introspection and thinking about my future, which could be really overwhelming. When my major was finally added to my transcript, it felt like things were starting to fall into place. My cousin and a few good friends of mine committed to Bryn Mawr, and I started to face the reality of a new sister class of baby blues. Even when it became clear that May Day would be rainy, I knew Bryn Mawr would pull through.
I got a lot of rejections this year. From about 10 different internships, from friendships, and so on. I was nominated for SGA positions and ran for them but lost every time. I applied to be a peer mentor and was rejected. I hosted a club meeting that only two people came to–this happened at least three times this year. My film was rejected by the Tri-Co Film Festival, and I missed more buses and trains than I’d care to count. This isn’t necessarily representative of what made this year hard (and it doesn’t include the successes), I just think it’s important to be honest with myself and others about failure, because it happens to everyone, all the time. Whenever I felt like I wasn’t doing enough, wasn’t achieving as much as I was supposed to, or just plain wasn’t good enough, I tried to think about the time I came in for an interview for this job. When Diana (my boss in the communications office) asked about what activities I did on campus, I told her the truth. I’d tried out for a capella groups, but I’d been sick and got stage fright. I joined clubs, only to never get emails or find out that their meetings conflicted with my schedule. I ran for an SGA position and lost. When I joined a theatre production to do costuming, the show was cancelled before it ever left paper tech. I was trying, but what I did on campus had ended up being schoolwork and hanging out with my friends. I emphasized that I loved spending time with those friends and coming up with our own wacky adventures, trying to convince her that my fairly sparse list of activities wasn’t due to an inability to socialize or a lack of interesting characteristics. Obviously, it worked out, and I learned that it’s okay not to always be doing as much as possible.
I’m a little more than halfway done with my finals, so I can practically feel the warmth of the summer sun at the end of the academic tunnel. This summer, I’ll be working at the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s education department on their “Creative Africa” exhibit. I received LILAC funding to work with Professor Monique Scott, director of Bryn Mawr’s museum studies program, and another student to research how diverse audiences experience the exhibition and the museum’s ArtSplash event. I can’t even begin to express how excited I am–museum education is probably my top choice for a career path at the moment. All that’s left are two papers, signing a lease, and packing up before I’ll be enjoying my summer. It’s been a wild ride, Bryn Mawr, and I can’t wait to see what you have in store for me next year.