Gather Ye Rosebuds, Dance, Jive, and Have The Time of Your Life While Ye May: Tim Reams’ Senior Column
I never pictured myself writing a senior column for Onward State. I spent years reading the legacies of those before me come to life with eloquent words on the page about their time here at Penn State and giving thanks to those who shaped their journeys. But I honestly never could have pictured myself having to face the day where I myself had to sit down and actually write these words as I reflect on my time here at Penn State.
The truth is, I didn’t know I’d ever have the privilege to be a part of Onward State or if I myself would even be around to write these words today.
Many come to find Onward State as an unexpected safe haven to grow their passions, sharpen their skills, and even more importantly, end up finding an unexpected second family away from home in this blog.
My journey with Onward State started way back in 2013 when I, a wide-eyed high school junior from little old Swoyersville, Pennsylvania, decided to tag Onward State in a Christmas Day tweet showing off Penn State apparel my parents had gotten me and knowing I wanted more than anything to go to Penn State. Onward State liked my tweet that day, and from that moment on I was tuned into the blog and knew no matter where my journey took me, I wanted it to include both Penn State and Onward State.
While many who come to join the legacy of the blog had never heard of Onward State or envisioned themselves joining due to the honest mistake of joining the Collegian first, I knew despite my career aspirations or skillset, I wanted to somehow be involved with Onward State if they would take a chance on me.
Fast forward to the fall of 2015, and I received the news freshman year that I was actually offered a position on Onward State following the famous Irving’s basement interview, and I literally jumped onto a table outside of the Big Onion in East Halls in excitement when I got the call.
Over the course of my long four years at Onward State there were so many memories that helped solidify the foundation of my legacy at Onward State, and shape the memories of those around me, including but not limited to Kanye Power Hours with unhappy endings, my 0-for-7 run on story ideas at my first OS meeting, shots of actual olive oil, creamy drinks, daylong hotdogs, Indiana hot tubs, Punxsutawney Phil, Kirkland Ale, the Bauer WPB Abode, and of course a missed dab in the THON 2016 line dance.
I have always been someone who thrives off the energy of being able to lift those up around me with laughter, but starting my sophomore year at Penn State, I found myself more lost and alone in my life than I ever had been before despite it not showing to those around me. Though I had a family in Onward State, incredible friends and family back home, and a group of roommates who were more like brothers, I found myself in a pit unable to dig myself out.
At the time, I was coming to grips with the fact that I was gay and had to tell everyone in my life. The fear, anxiety, and stress of the situation left me feeling hopelessly alone and clinically depressed. I never considered leaving Onward State or transferring to a university closer to home. I instead decided it would be better if I never existed in the first place, and regrettably took measures to try and see that measure through.
But when I was at the lowest I’d ever been on my darkest days, it was Onward State that picked me up and saved my life, piece by piece. The blog allowed me to come into my own and come out slowly, showing constant and continuous love and support, even when they didn’t know they were showing it.
Former managing editor Sara Civian was the first person I came out to, admittedly crying in the rain in her backyard telling her after a night out, and she pulled me in and gave me a tight hug and said “Nothing changes, Reams. I love you for you, because you are you, and you never need to worry or hide who you are.”
The support never faltered, even when I would drunkenly spill my darkest secret with the deep fear everyone around me would somehow condemn me or not treat me how they always did. At our formal, our former managing editor Elissa Hill and I stumbled paths in the hallway, and I revealed the same fact that I was gay to her, as I did with many of my closest friends on the blog that night, and she promptly replied, “Reams, I love you and that is seriously fine, but I am going to literally pee my pants.”
When she later came back from the bathroom, she gave me the biggest hug and felt like she would never let go. That night, I told all of my closest friends at the blog, and we all sat on the roof of a State College house reminiscing on life. Each of my friends reached out a hand and shoulder to cry on that night, showing me I had people in my corner no matter where life was going to take me, and gave me a reason to believe I had a reason to keep myself around. The continuous outpouring of love, support, and respect I received from the people around me on the blog kept me afloat and allowed me never to sink back to the dark place I had been.
Onward State may have never known it, but they genuinely saved my life. I may have always been the guy hosting socials and offering timely wisecracks in meetings, but the truth is, I was and always will be devoted to what this blog stands for, and the power it can have on someone’s life. The blog was a home away from home for me to find encouragement and support, but an equal amount of joking and memory-making. My journey with the blog was never quite linear or traditional being in roles ranging from writer to photographer and even internal manager and HR parnter (that one’s for you, Gabi).
The truth is, I would have never become the man I am today without Onward State. My four and a half years were directly and constantly shaped by the blog in every facet of my life. I’ve experienced love, loss, and friendship and found my true self through Onward State, and for that, I am forever thankful to have had the opportunity to connect with countless incredible people who provided me with the chance to learn, laugh, and grow into the person I’ve become today.
I want to conclude in some final remarks and long-winded thanks, because these people will never get enough credit for the roles that they all played for me in making my time at Penn State everything I ever could have hoped for and more.
To my incredible parents, brother Matt, and sister-in-law Alyssa, without the love and support of each of you at every step of the way, none of this could have ever been possible. You all pushed me to work hard, push the boundaries of what is possible, and go out and make my dreams come true. At every step of my journey, you were all directly behind me offering wisdom, guidance, love, and support. Without you all, I never would have even thought of applying to be on Onward State or to a master’s program. Your patience for me has helped me grow into the person I am today, and I am forever thankful to have family who makes leaving home so hard.
To my love Jason, though you came into my life on the last leg of my Penn State journey, you have provided me with the unconditional love and support that drives me to work hard for our future together. Both my real and Onward State families stamped their seal of approval on you, and you even survived a Snarkies at 402 Palmerton. You are the reason I get up in the morning and drive me to be my best self each and every day. Our journey together is just shy of a year together, but you have shown me patience, kindness, and self-love on the good and bad days. How wonderful life is while you’re in the world.
To my former roommates, the brethren of the 402 Palmerton brotherhood, Matt Lyons, Mark, Nate, Matty D, and Tom, know how appreciative I am of each and every one of you. Aside from allowing our 402 Palmerton apartment to go through hell and back weekly for years for shenanigans, you each provided a bond that formed memories I will carry for a lifetime. I never really thought of us as a big group of friends, I genuinely thought of as a group of brothers navigating the craziness of college together.
My friends and I are forever indebted to 402 Palmerton in all of her glory, and it is because I was fortunate enough to have amazing brothers like you all around to fill it with priceless and unforgettable memories.
On my first day of summer session way back in June 2015 a short girl came running up to me asking me first if I was from Scranton, and second if I was Republican. I answered yes to only one of those questions, but I gained a lifelong friend in you, Reagan McCarthy. As the future Meghan McCain, you never fail to challenge me, put a smile on my face, and force me to get out of my comfort zone and go to the Phyrst. You have been a constant in my life since my first day of college up until my last, and I am forever thankful for your friendship (and duckponds).
To my closest friend in college, my platonic soulmate, and the only person I can look across into a crowded room and send a silent telepathic message to, I am forever thankful for the role you play in my life, Kristen Ninosky. No one can make me laugh, smile, sing, and cry in the span of a few hours the way you do, but you still never fail to do so. You allowed me to become comfortable in my own skin, all while always being an honest and reliable friend. I would never have had the college experience I had without you being by my side from the beginning through my hardest and best days, providing me with smiles and hugs. I love and cherish you always, Mama.
I finally want to say thank you to all of the people in Onward State who became more like family to me over my four and a half years.
To my mentors and first friends on the blog, Civ, Doug Leeson, and Dave Abruzzese, I am forever thankful to each and every one of you for pushing me to be the best I could be for the blog through honest and meaningful feedback, and priceless friendships. Steve, my Den mischief partner in crime and Whitney Houston stan, you never failed to bring life to every party, even on Tuesday nights. You became the Elwood to my Jake at Penn State, and while we never actually had to run from the police, I will never forget the crazy journeys we shared. Elissa, the sister I never had provided by Penn State, thank you for never failing to share your Champs RANCH with me, and always be an honest friend I could count on for support. You always kept everything 100% real with me, and were my fiercest critic when I slipped up, and biggest fan when I did an amazing job. I am and always will be appreciative of the role you played in allowing me to push myself to always be honest and do my best. Gabi, my sweet gabburito, you are still to this day the only person who can make a single sound and make me burst into uncontrollable laughter. I have always looked up to you and admired your talent, and to this day wishing I had the chops to write an Elton John review as well as you did, or rock an outfit the way you do. To my son Mikey, never stop working hard and writing your own path forward. It is a privilege to have been able to witness your growth, and I am so excited to see where the future takes you, Michelle. And to my tight compadre, the president and CEO of Orchids of Asia Day Spa in West Palm Beach, Alex Bauer you are the bomb to my jaeger. Our friendship never failed to offer a twisting and turning adventure, whether that be in South Beach or across the state of Ohio in the Bauer Hogwarts Express. And finally, to Tony Colucci, I am incredibly proud and humbled to have been a part of your journey and witness your growth. You fully understand what the purpose of this blog is, and you live it every single day. It is friends like you that are influential in the lives of others, and I am forever grateful to have had a friend like you to shape and better my own thinking.
And too each and every one of you, the readers and to the staffers I love but know I missed, I am thankful for ALL of you and the roles you’ve played in my roller coaster ride.
In high school, one of my most formative teachers had me read Robert Herrick’s “To the Virgins, Make the Most of Time”, and it has always stuck with me to this day. In the poem, the resounding themes is “Carpe Diem,” Latin for “Seize the day.”
As cliché as this phrase and poem can be, if I could offer one applicable advice to anyone starting their journey at Penn State, it would be to seize every single moment. Penn State is a place where opportunities present themselves at every single moment. Even when I was completely sure of my direction or choices, I took every chance provided to me and lived life to its fullest. I lived in Austin, Houston, and New York City. I travelled to Miami, Indianapolis, and even Punxsutawney to witness Groundhog’s Day. I seized every single opportunity to try new things, make plenty of mistakes, and to grow at every turn. I frequented the Gaff 69,000 times and danced to Mamma Mia more than I am comfortable sharing with literally any of you.
No one’s Penn State journey is linear or uniform, but if you open yourself to being out of your comfort zone, you never know what memories and friends it will bring.
I want to end on the other quote I find summarizes my time here at Penn State. The wise Andy Bernard once said “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” I have only two regrets in college. One, reading the comments and mentions, and second, not realizing the memories I was making would stick with me for a lifetime and appreciating them enough in the moment.
But in reflecting, I know how lucky I am to have been surrounded by incredible people who challenged, supported, and loved me along my journey. The future may be intimidating and full of unknowns, but I know I will carry the memories I have made and lessons learned here at Penn State forever, and I know I will always be ready to seize every single day thanks to Penn State.
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About the Author
“Our international students need to rely…on a safe and flexible learning environment that will help make possible the attainment of their educational goals in a safe and healthy manner.”
With barely six weeks until the first ball is kicked for the 2020 campaign, let’s see how the Nittany Lions might line up.
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