I Have No Idea What I’m Doing: Kaitlyn Dividock’s Senior Column
I don’t know how to write one of these things.
When I first sat down to write this, I slapped down what seemed like a million cliché words about what I thought all the required emotions every college senior at this university should have. I wrote pages and pages that summed up how those same graduating seniors should’ve spent more of their time here enjoying the little things, how they should’ve cut loose on that Wednesday night and gone to the Gaff, or how thankful they should be for giving this place a second chance and not transferring to that one private school they really thought “got them” because it understood all of their friends the way that they thought Penn State never could. I then revisited those pages, proofread them, and deleted every single phrase in disgust because I am anything but an advice column dishing out counsel on how people should live their own lives.
I then typed at length, hands shaking, about my personal journey in this valley. I went into tremendous detail about how I couldn’t stand being here my freshman year, how that year layered depression and anxiety over top one another during each passing week, and how often I sobbed to my friends and family back home, begging them to tell me to change my major to something I loved and made me happy. I wrote about how I never spent more than two consecutive weeks in my dorm room in Pollock without returning to sleep in my own bed in Portage. I had paragraphs thanking Christina Scheeler, Brielle Williams, and Shanna Kistler for building real friendships with me four years ago, and how if it weren’t for them, my ass would’ve been sitting in a tiny classroom at UPJ or IUP, forever in regret for not being strong and pushing through to next fall.
I discussed in detail my sophomore year in Beaver Hall where seven of the most wonderful, clever, and hilarious people I’ve ever met convinced me that Penn State is actually incredible and that it will never leave me to rot again like it did my freshman year. I embarrassingly thanked each of them – Christina Enrico, Sam Goldstein, Julia Silver, Tizzy Wosewick, Gaby Vargas, Rianne Adler, and Rachel Campbell – individually for reminding me of what it’s like to have such solid, meaningful relationships with people that think I’m cool enough to hang around.
And of course, I talked about Onward State, and how this little blog shaped my entire senior year in a way I never thought possible. It gave me a notable platform to share my views, a reason to travel to incredible cities, the opportunity to cover famous musicians and meet American superstars, and introduced me to roughly 40 intelligent, beautiful, and disgustingly crude misfits who I now call my best friends. It even taught me that I’m actually good at this whole journalism thing, and that I might even pursue it as a career in the future. I also mentioned how our past ME, and my now good friend, Tim Gilbert, accidentally forgot to hire me during my junior year and how I’ll never let him forget it (Hi, Tim! Fuck you!).
I wrote about the highs, the lows, the good times, and the bad, and then revisited it a couple days later and realized how awful and sappy it truly was. Sappiness, again, is not the kind of trait I hold dear to my personality, so I deleted that large chunk of rambling garbage too.
Instead, what I’m going to leave you with is a short list of experiences that genuinely, wholeheartedly made me happy during my time here at Penn State with the tons of people I’ll never forget. You might not understand most of the things I describe, and if you do, I’m not sure whether or not to laugh uncontrollably with you or duck and run for cover as you try to slap me in the face. What I do hope is that even if you’re that scared, sad freshman like I was four years ago, or a big-time junior ready to take your senior year by storm, you recognize that this little valley we all call home is quirky and brilliant and to never foolishly wish the time you have here away.
- About an hour after my freshman convocation ceremony, my floor mate Kate Wright convinced me to go to a party being held by the Club Gymnastics team with her sister, who was also a student at the time. I took 13 shots of some vodka I’d never heard of and passed out on the kitchen counter. It was my first night of college.
- At the end of my first year, Movin’ On booked Brand New, my favorite band in the god damn world, as its third act. I got to see them for free, surrounded by my best friends from home. I wept like a baby when I heard Jesse Lacey’s angsty voice, and my heart was so full.
- During my freshman year, about halfway through fall semester when the leaves were still changing, my friends Christina and Shanna forcibly dragged me out of my pocket-sized dorm in Pollock to spend a night rummaging through west College, trying to find a house party to go to. I had refused to go out every other time beforehand on account of the whole being depressed thing, but this time something sparked and told me to say, “fuck it” and go. I faked a British accent to get people to like me while we were walking, and after what seemed like a decade, we finally stumbled into the most intimate party ever; maybe 25 people were there, tops. This was the first night I shot-gunned (a lot of) beer, and it was also the first time I felt like I fit in at Penn State.
- Sophomore year, in the self-titled “Penthouse” floor of Beaver, at least one person was always down to do something with me, no matter how bizarre or stupid it was. Whether it was staying up until 4 a.m. on a night we all had 8 a.m. classes the next morning listening to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” because we thought it made us “edgy,” or playing weird team-building games with our try-hard hipster RA, I never felt alone. They always made sure of it.
- And lastly, I want to thank Gabi Stevenson and Drew Klingenberg, for not only being the fantastic writers that they are on the OS staff, but for also being the two people that kept me glued together and dealt with all my bullshit for the last half of this year. We spent every waking minute together going on hikes, talking about nothing, and alternated sleeping at each other’s apartments, and they never once got sick of my company. They are truly unrivaled and without them I’d be lost.
I know I said I wasn’t going to give you guys dumb advice to carry my legacy on or whatever, but I don’t really know how else to end this thing without just saying, “Hey, college was super real. Bye!” Just, like, don’t take Penn State for granted. Don’t be scared to put your true self out there, because out of the 44,000-some students enrolled, someone is bound to think you’re rad as hell. Study the major you genuinely love, kiss as many people as possible, drink on a Monday, skip class if you’re not feeling it, and join that weird club because you think it’s cool. Tell a Flyers fan to fuck off because they deserve it. Push yourself out of your comfort zone as often as you can. Take advantage of everything Penn State offers you, and do the damn thing.
I almost gave up on this place, but it never gave up on me, and now the thought of leaving is legitimately breaking my heart. So on that note, I’m going to go drown the remainder of my sorrows in shitty IC Light at Primanti’s like the Pittsburgh douche I am.
For the Glory, For the Blog, and Go Pens,