After shoving a random guy outside a TH party and watching him slump away, his middle fingers slashing through the wind, I knew I was ready to graduate. He pushed me first, in my defense, and after 22 years of being overlooked, nudged aside, and seen but not acknowledged due to my height and relatively quiet demeanor, I realized it was quite possible and easy to reach outside of my unremarkable self for one moment and push back with confidence.
My “near-brawl,” as I shall refer to it from now until I’m quivering on my death bed, points to one of several common threads through my four years at Vassar: some of my most important learning experiences have occurred at night. (Note: In saying this, I do not wish to diminish the importance of the classes I’ve taken or my professors, to whom I shall be forever indebted for pushing me as a thinker, writer and first-rate drinker.)
Through late-night talks I opened myself up to new friendships and accepted the fact that I’m an extremely sentimental and sensitive guy. And while that’s something I had been embarrassed about and shamed for in my formative years, as a college graduate I no longer have qualms about crying out of immense sadness, frustration or anger, especially if and when all three strike at once.
I’ve experienced a loneliness I didn’t know possible while at Vassar, which falters in daylight and returns with spiteful force between the hours of midnight and six in the morning. But I’ve learned how to combat it by leaning on the amazing friendships I’ve stumbled (honestly, the only word for it) into since freshman year. I have no idea how or why these amazing people have put up with my shit for so long (I’m sure they don’t know either; maybe they deserve some sweet, sweet cash, or, at the very least, a Deece swipe?), but they have become my family. So, you fuckers are stuck with me.
Of course friendships have come and gone, some taking with them a larger chunk of my heart than others, but Vassar has given me strength in times when I felt less-than strong.
And that strength came through writing. During late nights, I was able to rekindle my passion for writing fiction, which carried me through the daunting task of having to produce a novel/thesis/creature this past year. I do much of my free-writing during the day, but the lull of darkness lures me into a dreamstate where I can apparently spend hours tweaking a paragraph or one sentence. In those moments of intense writing and revision, when I found myself sprawled out on a sofa in the Library or alone at Acrop, with a 4 a.m. backdrop and bruised ego, I believed both my draft and the world were erupting into flames. Still, I learned and now know more confidently post-thesis that there is nothing else I would rather do with my life.
I should mention: at night, I rarely slept. I should probably do more of that sleeping thing. It’s a work-in-progress, I guess—some lessons take more than four years to learn.
And there’s one I’ve been struggling to grasp for a long time; one that’s been a problem for years before I even arrived at Vassar: getting over my irritating habit of regretting moments I let slip away and opportunities I made an adamant decision not to chase after. When I showed up on campus to move into Noyes—the first time I had ever stepped foot on Vassar soil—I thought that standing on the other side of these four years, I would be a person who had partied more, dated more, transformed physically, become someone who was radically not me. With graduation only days away, I’ve accepted that college is not the be-all and end-all of lived experiences.
And so instead of spending my nights weeping over these never-happened memories, I’ll focus on what I did do. There was the night I walked over a frozen Sunset Lake with friends and fell though the ice; when I pulled myself up from the water I never felt more alive. Most nights I ignored writing papers and reading to just talk with my friends, which may have hurt me in the short-term as I pushed my own boundaries on how late I could start my work and finish it before a deadline, but will remain one of the few things I know I did right.
Finally, without my affinity for the “all-nighter” I would not have acclimated to or made a home of The Miscellany News. My time with the Misc has taught me what sports fans on this campus have known for the majority of their lives: how to care passionately about something no one else really gives a shit about. I never imagined as a freshman that I would one day become the Editor-in-Chief, and in truth I only ever dreamt of taking the reigns as Humor & Satire Editor. In a world of possibilities, though, I was able to do both, and I say that not to brag but to highlight how Vassar allowed me to develop as a student, leader, writer and masochist.
In the ten-to-12 hours of a production night, I felt untouchable. I’ve always found laughter in times of stress to be the most viable outlet, and the joking that took place in the Misc office healed wounds left by an overly-critical student body, an unresponsive administration and professors who thought it appropriate to belittle students figuring out how to be journalists for a paper with no guidance. I can say all of these factors have thickened my skin; if anything has prepared me to become an adult, more than my dependency on coffee and bitter cynicism, it’s been my time with the Misc.
Maybe I’ve done a horrible job at the impossible task of summarizing these last incredible four years, so I’ll end with this: While I know in so many ways I’m still similar to who I was at 18 (I’m unbelievably insecure and continuously enjoy lip-synching to my favorite songs alone in my room like the loser I am), I have evolved into a stronger, slightly more intelligent and socially conscious person, because of Vassar. And in four years, what more could anyone ask?
—Chris Gonzalez is an English major with an anthropology correlate, as well as the outgoing Humor & Satire Editor of the Miscellany News. He served as the Editor-in-Chief in the spring of 2014.