I’m sorry freshmen, but you won’t understand this; there is just no way you could. In three short years, you’ll know. Oh man, will you know. I have left a note for you at the end, I think you need to hear it.
I’ve made about four drafts trying to talk about my experiences about OU, the things I’ve learned and what I’ll miss, but I just can’t find the words. I don’t think I’ll ever find the right words to describe my experience because it’s been nothing short of indescribable.
Thank you Athens, for everything. Thank you for allowing me to join you on a wild, four year ride to my adulthood. Thank you for building me up, breaking my heart and shaping me into the person you knew I’d become. When I walked upon your bricks for the first time, I could never in my wildest dreams have anticipated all the life I’d experience, and the joy I’d find.
I quite literally grew up among red bricks and green trees, I spent late nights that turned into mornings at bars that make your feet stick and I lived in a humble town with humble people. We didn’t come to attend a big football school, we didn’t come to join the biggest greek life system in the nation, we came to a small school with big personality and unforgettable people.
I’ve ruined countless heels in the bricks and I’ve had way too many drinks spilled on me. I’ve seen heartbreak and unfathomable joy, and I’ve seen desperation and triumph. Classes will kick your ass, boys will break your heart and sometimes you’re not sure how you could ever go on. But you will; you will and you’ll be stronger because of it. The people you meet in Athens are so authentic in nature, and every single person you meet has the power to change your life, if you let them. Please let them. This school has a commanding power to come together as a whole and start a huge party; you’ll be thankful for this, I promise.
I never would have thought I’d join a sorority. I never in a million years thought I’d be forever connected to girls who are going to change the world, become amazing mothers and change the way I think about myself. There’s the cliche phrase, “Individually unique, together complete.” You don’t know that joining a sorority is more than matching t-shirts and late nights out. You don’t know that these girls come from all walks of life, with different experiences and outlooks that will soften your heart and fill you up with so much life.
From the sorority house to my freshman dorm to my apartment of two years, the addresses you’ve allowed me to occupy will stay with me my whole life, and I couldn’t thank you enough for the endless opportunities to grow personally, professionally and academically. I’ve sweated my ass off walking up Jeff hill, swiped into Shively just for ice cream and skipped way too many science classes. I’ve failed exams and broken guys hearts, I’ve laughed until I cried and I’ve sobered up over Nelson breakfast. I’ve danced drunkenly at frat parties and I’ve pulled all nighters just trying to pass a class. I’ve tried every coffee shop, restaurant and store on Court, and I’ve found myself among the trees on College Green. I changed the course of my career path, twice, and I’ve dropped countless classes. I’ve met the most awe-inspiring people from every major, and I’ve had nights with strangers I’ll never see again.
To the freshman: The summer after senior year was a busy and stressful one preparing for a life I didn’t know I was ready for. Picking out matching dorm accessories to match with your roommate who somehow fills a piece of your heart you didn’t know was missing, saying goodbye to friends from your four years of high school that you can’t believe won’t be with you every day anymore, and mostly, trying to figure out how you’ll live on your own for the first time. The night before moving to OU for my freshman year, I didn’t sleep at all. I was excited, scared to death and anxiously anticipating what my four years at the university would look like for me.
I can assure you that it didn’t look like what I thought it would, but I couldn’t have known the growth and joy I would receive, and the path my life would take. You don’t know it when you first arrive, but the girl down the hall could become your forever friend, the girl who will make things okay as you sit on the floor breaking down over a guy you fell in love with at Stal. You don’t know that the teacher from your random gen ed class will restructure your view on your major and maybe place an intention on your heart that maybe it’s time to change. You don’t know that Shively ice cream is a privilege, and not a right, and taking trips there with your new dorm friends will make memories for a lifetime. You don’t know that joining a sorority is more than getting a full night life.
Join a sorority, or don’t. Join a bunch of extra curricular, or don’t. I don’t really care what you do, but I want you to do a lot of things, maybe some things you never thought you would. This town will surprise you, break your heart, build you up, make you laugh and make you cry. I hope your time in Athens is full of joy, but four years is a long time to avoid strife. I also hope you find people that will be there for you in the absolute darkest times of your life, and I hope you cling to those people within an inch of your life. I hope your friends take you to O’Betty’s when you’re drunk and scrape you knee, and I hope you cry at your preference ceremony during recruitment because when you look around you see your home. I hope you skip class to hang out with a friend on South Green in the spring when the weather is just right, and I hope you have some nights you barely remember. I hope you work hard in school, but know that your GPA is just a number. I know you’ll do these things if you allow yourself to. I hope you find a special spot where you always sit for coffee and a restaurant where you grab weekly dinner with a friend. I hope you make friends with your professors and I hope you find joy in every season of life because this ride won’t last forever.
I could have never expected to make the friends that I did, join the clubs that I’ve joined and lived life the way I have. You can’t plan for life, as much as you’d like to, but you can be present. I’m asking, more like begging you, to just show up. Every day. Your four years here will fly by, and you’ll never be in a time of your life as this in a place as magical as this.
Thank you Ohio University, for giving me the things that I wanted, and for giving me so many other things I never knew I needed. I am forever indebted to you for the fun I’ve had, the food I’ve eaten and the life I’ve found. I only have one year left with you, and I intend to make every second count.