Trautwein: What I learned in college: At Northwestern, passion is celebrated

Cally Trautwein

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Full disclosure: I’m currently in a very particular and precarious emotional state. I watched two movies today: “First Daughter” and “Shakespeare in Love.” I have a final tomorrow, and a cold, and I just ate three cookies.

We march through the Arch on Friday, back where it all began. I’d say I’ve come full circle, but thank God I’m a completely different person now than I was in 2009.

Four years ago, an annoying 18-year-old New Jersey native moved into the smelliest dorm on campus and thought abbreviating words was an okay thing to do. Today, I only abbreviate words in an ironic way. (LOL!!!!111!)

The truth is, I’ve grown up a lot at this school. I’ve learned to forgive myself for losing three pairs of keys my freshman year and for eating six grilled cheeses at a fundraiser. I’ve learned it’s okay to go out and it’s okay to stay in. And that life’s really fun when you stop caring if other people are watching. (Particularly when you’re dancing). On the first day here, they told us we were One Northwestern. And if you pay close attention, you can see it: the duct tape that binds us together.

At this school, friends come out in droves for each other’s a capella shows and exchange sympathetic nods at Deering on Fridays. At this school, turnout for DM’s Harry Potter trivia night is excessive, and people spend freezing cold Saturdays in the fan section of Ryan Field, screaming their heads off. Basically, at this school, we care. We care a lot.

In this community, it’s cool to care about people, places and things. You’ll find big fans of old ‘90s pop here, and literary aficionados who openly hate Anna from Anna Karenina and won’t stop talking until you hate her, too. Yes, milestones are celebrated at NU, but matter less than the nights spent dancing like loons anywhere there’s an opportunity to do so, or sitting on the couch talking about how underrated “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” is.

What I’m trying to say is that passion is celebrated here, and people notice when you do something great. Among friends at this school, your feelings, even those crazy ones you express during finals week after two Red Bulls, are valid and validated. To me, that’s important.

Next year when I’m lonely, I’ll think of the time “Sandstorm” played at Dance Marathon and the tent exploded into a rave. I’ll remember wiping out throwing snowballs at strangers during Snowpocalypse, and post-gaming football with Papa John’s buffalo chicken pizza.

These are the moments I’ll keep close to the chest: the reminders of times we all reached out to each other, grabbed hands and held on tight. The times we rejoiced and laughed and cried as a moving, sweating, vital mass.

I’ll carry them with me as I move through the world, comfortable in the knowledge that they’re part of you, too. I wish us all luck — in finding jobs, and love and other weirdos and goofballs to be our friends in the next chapters of our lives.

Just remember these four years for what they were: a beautifully circuitous and wild ride into and out of the unknown. Next up: something new.

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