*This time last year, I was entering my final month of college before my graduation on May 5, 2012. I, along with many other former students, was asked to write a letter to my senior self as part of a senior reflection at my alma mater. This is what I wrote.*
Dear Senior Self:
There are a couple things I know to be true. One, I know you loved every minute you spent in the Hill. Two, I know that you have found a community and a home on that hill. Three, I know that it is always hard to say good-bye to something that you love. Four, it is especially hard to say good-bye to the Hill on the first Saturday in May. But I know that you can do it. Because before you go to live St. Ignatius’ most famous tenet, to “Go forth and set the world on fire,” you have lived another of his wise words: “Laugh and grow strong.” Sure, I’m pretty sure Kelly Clarkson was talking about painful stuff, like stubbed toes and broken hearts, when she said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” but that’s just because Kelly didn’t go to this school. She doesn’t know like a Badger does that laughter, even through tears, makes us the strongest. But St. Ignatius, the biggest Badger of them all, knew. He knew that laughter is everything. It builds camaraderie in a difficult class, when you have to laugh to keep from crying. Laughter creates friendships late at night freshman year, and those jokes and relationships make it all the way to the apartments. You have laughed so much during your past four years. So, when you feel like crying over these next few weeks, try to laugh instead. Be brave. It’s all going to be okay.
In fact, it’s going to be better than okay—it’s going to be great. I have looked into your future, and I have seen happiness and adventure. Don’t be afraid. Set the world on fire, and bring others into the circle to dance with you. When you hug your friends good-bye, it’s not forever. It’s never forever, because there is a special place in your heart for all of them, and they have one for you too. Be present in every moment of these last few days—they are once in a lifetime, and you won’t want to miss a thing.
When you drive away from Exit 4 for the last time, it will feel like your whole world is ending, but don’t be a cotton-headed ninnymuggins! Your whole world is opening up for you, so take every opportunity you can! Live with integrity. Be patient with yourself, and with others. Be kind. Just keep swimming. Scatter joy, and give hugs. Remember that once a Badger, always a Badger. There will always be someone from this home to help you and love you and guide you. You are not the same person you were four years ago—you are more. You are enough. Be yourself. Take time every day to remember who you are, where you come from and what you believe. It will make everything else so much nicer And above all, don’t forget to laugh.
Love from your graduate self,
Hannah Z. , Class of 2012.