Life Begins at the End of your Comfort Zone

Why don’t you tell me a bit about your major and where you’re moving on to from William and Mary?

Wow I just spilled coffee on me….don’t put that in the interview! Well I’m a senior, as we know because otherwise I wouldn’t be doing senior interviews….I’m an english/history double major, I will hopefully be doing the Peace Corps! I had an interview last Friday for the Peace Corps so hopefully I will be teaching literacy in the Samoan Islands….if you don’t know where that is it’s near Fiji kind of above Australia.

That’s so fun!

Yeah! I’m super excited. It’s like….ahhh! I don’t know. I’m terrified. It’ll be fine.

So what would you say, reflecting on your time here at William and Mary, is the most important lesson you’ve learned outside the classroom?

Okay so my favorite quote is, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” and I….I think many of our fellow W&M students are very hesitant coming into school like I didn’t know who these people were and I didn’t want to have to interact with these people like c’mon! I think, interacting with people, interacting with your fellow people, is really key. Don’t be scared to have a conversation with someone, random, in the lunch line. Two of my best friends I just met and I made a comment and they made a comment and we introduced ourselves and we still chat to this day. It’s wonderful! And I love it. It’s one of those things like….push yourself. I guess my piece of advice would be push yourself to do something you’re uncomfortable doing because you can only become a better human being and a better person for it.

That’s good advice! That’s good for freshmen and seniors….

Like all humans! Life in general. Half the reason I’m applying to the Peace Corps is i want to do public service, I want to help people. Learning how to read is very important to me, I couldn’t read until I was in 3rd grade, I had dyslexia, and now I’m an english major so that’s important to me but at the same time it’s pushing me outside of my comfort zone too. 2 years in a foreign country, knowing nobody?! That’s a lot! I’m trying to not let my fears about life stop me from doing what I want to do, which is travel and meet new people. So I guess that is why that piece of advice is important to me.

That’s amazing. Why don’t you tell me about your best experience or memory that you have on campus? Like the one, defining, best moment?

Oh….why?! Best experience…that’s hard. That’s really hard. I guess…there’s no specific instance that I can think of off the top of my head but one of the best instances have been the little conversations with people. This kind of goes back to stepping outside your comfort zone and meeting new people. It’s been those moments where I’m like sitting in the sundial, like how we are now, and I’m having this really deep, in-depth conversation with someone about socialism or about black lives matter or about bees or….I mean these are just some totally random conversations I’ve had over the years with people and they were really significant to me because I felt like I was really spending time with somebody! We were really getting to know each other as people because we weren’t talking about ourselves we were talking about something else so I guess those are my favorite, most profound moments outside of the classroom at W&M. I don’t have a specific like “oh this was the best moment ever” it’s just been a bunch of these little, random conversations.

That’s a great reason for you joining HoWM though….

And that’s one of my favorite things about Humans of William & Mary is I get to have these deep little meaningful conversations all the time (even though I’m really bad about typing them up so….)

So what first attracted you to join Humans?

People. I have recently been trying to figure out what I’m going to do with my life and I applied to law school and then figured out that that’s not where I’m meant to go or what I really want to do with my life. I was realizing I really want to be in a career where I interact with people and Humans really help me realize that because I love meeting new people. I love it! I love finding new friends and new perspective. I guess that’s what attracted me to HoWM because I followed Humans of New York and I love all these fascinating stories. Like you look at this person and you would never guess some of the things they deal with or go through! So I guess that’s what I like about Humans of WM because people here are just fascinating. And as a history major I like reading diaries as primary sources, I’m a bit of a snoop and I love snooping in peoples lives. I love knowing the interesting stories and the gossip.

Same! I’m really nosy like I love to hear people’s stories.

I’m a nosy person too! I enjoy that aspect [of HoWM] as well. Talking to people and being nosy! Perfect, perfect organization for me to join.

It goes hand-in-hand. So…you’ll be graduating soon. What do you think will be the hardest goodbye you’ll have to make?

Ugh. I think the hardest goodbye will be all the people I’m friends with on campus but we’re mainly friends because we have the time to catch coffee a few times a week. So the hardest goodbye will be those friends who I know I might not necessarily see again or necessarily interact with much past graduation. And I’m going to try and keep in touch with a lot of my friends and a lot of the people I just love hanging out with but some of my friends….while I love them I don’t see our friendships lasting long past college. This is very painful for me and goodbyes are a very, very hard thing for me. Those are going to be the hardest goodbyes. And there are people who I’m going to try and stay in touch and make the effort but there are just some friendships that you can kind of tell that are more of a proximity thing than a commonality thing.

Yeah….goodbyes are always really bittersweet.

Yeah.

And then you’re hoping to go worlds away so….

Yeah. And so I changed elementary schools 4 times and then went to a middle school that was completely different from where all my elementary school friends went….and then went to a high school completely different from where all my middle school friends went and then I went to college! And now I only keep in touch with 1 friend from high school so for me, each major change in my life has meant that I have to start completely over without friends. And so I’m trying to remind myself that I’ve built really strong connections with people and we also have the maturity to maintain these friendships now so I’m hoping and praying and knowing that I’m going to put in the effort to keep these friendships going for hopefully the rest of my life.

Nice nice. So….I asked you what your best experience was on campus, is there a worst experience or a horrible memory that you’re comfortable sharing but is something that you will always be reminded of?

Yeah so….my advisor committed suicide last August, Paula Blank, she was my English advisor and English is probably my favorite of my two majors and so….and my sophomore year we had a string of about 3 suicides over the course of the year. And the last guy who committed suicide, I didn’t know him personally but I had seen him around in Pirates of Penzance….his name was Paul. And so I guess the hardest part about WM has been those suicides, especially that last one really affected me. I was mourning for weeks, and I still mourn sometimes. I was talking today about a Shakespeare Film class that she [Paula] was supposed to teach and I was planning on taking but I couldn’t emotionally handle because of this. I guess my thing is the hardest thing about William & Mary has been losing people…especially since I am a people-person. I guess the thing I’m trying to remember is that no matter what, people you don’t even think would care about you like I didn’t know Paul personally, he didn’t know me, but I still cared that he was gone! People will miss you whether they know you or not. They will remember you. I guess that’s the hardest part. And I’ve learned that people matter more than they realize and the ripple effect of their loss impacts people they wouldn’t expect that it would impact. I now encourage people to remember that you are loved, whether you know it or not.

Do you think that’s a unique and….amazing aspect of our campus that we all, even if we didn’t personally know them or were involved, we can understand and empathize and we all feel the loss from our community?

I think so because our community is small enough that sometimes, especially towards the end, starts to feel a little suffocating from how small it is, but it’s also small enough that everyone you know….they say that everyone knows everyone between 7 degrees or 9 degrees or whatever but everything at WM is between 3 because everyone knows everyone within at least 3 degrees. My roommate knew this guy, who I met last year, and he knew all of my friends. I met him this past August. He knew every single one of my close friends and I had never met him before. I didn’t even know he existed! I think it’s one of those things that because everybody know somebody that’s affected, it affects all of us. Because you care about your friend, who cared about their friend who passed away. So….

The closeness can feel a little suffocating at times but I think it’s a really important aspect of our community.

I think it’s not only important but I think it helps us realize that people are more similar than you think? But also more unique and incredible. Everyone is more similar than they think but everyone is also more unique than they think. Everyone has something about them that is irreplaceable. We’re all similar and different at the same time and I think everyone is special.

Like snowflakes!

Yes! Like snowflakes! Exactly! I’m going to steal that and use that. I really like metaphors and that is the perfect one. Yes, we’re like snowflakes. There are things that make us all unique and that’s important and I think that’s one of the great things of our small campus, we can see the uniqueness of everyone around us. We don’t all become numbers.

That’s incredible, yeah. Is there one thing or aspect that you really want to leave a legacy as or be known for once you leave us?

Um….well….2 things. One is more profound and one is more silly. I’ll start with the profound one. I would like to be remembered as someone who always made a positive impact on someone else’s life. Whether it was just making them smile or….I want to be remember as someone who cared. That’s one legacy I would like to leave, knowing that I care. When I ask about your day, I actually care how it’s going. The other thing is….I am co-president of the Botany Club with Hunter Call and last year at the end of the year it was just the two of us left in this club. I am co-president and secretary and he [Hunter] is co-president and treasurer and we were determined that this club could not die with us! And we actually brought up membership! We have a solid membership of like 15–20 people right now so the club will not die with us! That is the small legacy that I am probably the most proud of. I like to take all the credit, but in reality Hunter did do a lot too, and we spent a lot of time recruiting during the activities fair, I sent a lot of emails, so I’m pretty proud that this club is still chugging along.

So what does Botany Club do?

We grow succulents and sell them during plant sales but we also go on walks, we have research talks, we’ll have people come in to talk about their research, we talk about job opportunities, and the nice thing is…it’s open to anyone! I am an English and History double major and I’m co-president of the Botany Club! How does that work?! I don’t know, it just does. That’s the great thing….if you just don’t care about scientific names like me and you just want to nurture something and help it grow this is the club for you. It’s a nice 2pm on a Sunday, study break from Swem, hop over to the ISC greenhouse, spend an hour re-potting plants (we do a lot of repotting) and we also name our plants! We get little labels that say “Hello my name is: “ and we’ll do historical figures or fictional characters….we also do Stalin and Putin a lot too which is probably really horrible but pretty funny at the same time. That’s the Botany Club. It’s a really casual, laid-back club. We’re volunteering at an Elementary School this upcoming Monday. We’re building a butterfly garden for them. It’s a pretty laid-back, casual club but we try to make an impact on our community, educate our members, have fun, and relax. It’s not supposed to be stressful. So….that’s the Botany Club! And it’s not dead yet! I won!

So we kind of already covered this but is there any last piece of advice or anything you want to leave? Like….what is the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?

Someone asked me once “when is the last time you felt free?” I thought that was a very strange question. It’s become one of my favorite interview questions. I think it’s a very interesting thing because everyone has a different concept of freedom but for me, freedom is doing something that makes me happy and content and that kind of ties in with chasing your dreams. I know it sounds ridiculous and it’s so cliche to just like “chase your dreams” but….do what scares you. Chase your dreams. Feel freedom. I guess my advice is don’t box yourself in and create a life where you feel free and happy in that life instead of one where you feel obligated. Like….I applied to law school because I felt obligated by my parents to apply to law school and that’s not what I’m doing now! I don’t think obligations are bad things, they can be very wonderful, and they’re a fact of life but…I guess create a life where you feel like you have some freedom in some aspects of your life. That’s the one advice I would leave, especially to people here. We have no work/life balance. It’s a reality. Work is life, life is work, even if it’s a club it’s still work. That’s why we all go so ham on blowout. Create a work/life balance and find freedom in your life is the one piece of advice I would leave now, at the end.

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