On Day 36 I found myself with microphone in hand, aiming to “impart wisdom” on the next class of freshmen students at my alma mater (when did I get this old??).
The journey to this particular podium started a few weeks ago. I received an invitation to speak at this year’s orientation and immediately felt elated, honored and nervous (think Lindsey Lohan’s first day in Mean Girls meets jumping on the bed).
First things first: I had to make the drive up. No trip to school is complete without at least a short drive through the hills of New Hampshire. I reveled at the natural beauty. I talked to myself for hours. I belted out favorite high school/college classics (Go on leave me breathless…). I had a goofy smile plastered on my face the entire time.
Driving onto campus, the significance of orientation sunk in. These students were about to embark on the same journey I took some years ago.
Today I not only tried to inspire but also to motivate. I spoke about post-college opportunities, the breadth of available experiences in and out of the classroom and the importance of following your own path and studying the things you find interesting. Most importantly, I tried to assuage fears for the students of the class of 2016 during this exciting yet anxious time.
After I was done speaking, many hands went up in the air, each person with a different question. I felt like the program was a success.
One young man asked how it felt to be “on the other side.”
I thought: proud of myself. Grateful for the opportunity to pass my experiences on. Jealous of the class of 2016 (maybe I can re-enroll??). Pondering whether I could head to the frats afterwards (celebratory keystone?). And wanting to give back even more.
The mix of emotions I felt was overwhelming. Today I wasn’t on campus for a reunion, a class event or a big alumni weekend. It was business as usual on Day 2 of freshman orientation.
Finding myself in the midst of the orientation schedule was a great honor and the opportunity to give back and help inspire a whole new class left me humbled, reminiscent and giddy.