When I was first asked to write a piece for the Class of 2023 anthology, I thought about all the ways I could attempt to capture Yale in a single essay. I could chronicle my entire college journey in hyperrealistic detail, from the day I opened that “Bulldog! Bulldog! Bow Wow Wow!” video all the way to Commencement. I could write an acrostic prose-poem where the first letter of each section spells out Y-A-L-E. I could write a super meta opening paragraph that refers back to the inception of the essay itself and makes me look either really self-aware or really desperate for material, depending on how generous you’re feeling.
The solution to this problem is like a Directed Studies kid who doesn’t mention every two seconds that they did DS even though they’re a senior now: It doesn’t exist. It is impossible to condense my entire college experience into an 800-word essay. One thing I’ve learned at Yale, though, is that most things are impossible, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth doing. Maybe that’s a good way to structure this piece — “Things that are Impossible, but Worth Doing Anyway”:
- Going to bed at a reasonable hour. If you’re already doing that, I worship you. If you’re not, start so I can add to my pantheon. It’s so hard to do because there is so much to stay up late for here: dancing at galas in secret libraries, planning a trip to Seoul down to the hour that will never actually be realized, feverishly churning out that DS philosophy paper you should definitely not have started at 10 p.m. on a Thursday (see? We’re contractually obligated to mention it), or playing Mario Kart on the Wii that mysteriously appeared in the Hopper buttery one day and whose existence we will choose not to question. I don’t regret wanting to engage with Yale as much as possible. But sleep doesn’t keep you from engaging with life — on the contrary, it gives you the energy to live even more fully. Yale students know to work hard and play hard, but we also owe it to ourselves to rest (hopefully not somewhere too hard). Still, try as you might to live life to the absolute max, you still have to accept this next impossibility, which is
- Making the “most” out of Yale. As in, you might be taking six and a half credits while being president of three clubs while working two jobs while making time to babysit your lonely professor at office hours every week, but you will still never be able to do everything you want to, at Yale or beyond. There will be poet laureates you miss because you have to sing soprano for an alum’s 90th birthday party, or a friend’s play you can’t make because you’re in the Florida swamplands catching Acanalonia bivittata with your bug-collecting class. But it’s no good to kick yourself for what you can’t do, whether because of your own overcommitment or forces beyond your control. Instead, appreciate what you are able to spend your time doing, and make the most out of what you have, however much or little that may be. It may be difficult, almost as difficult as
- Finding home. It’s impossible until it isn’t. It might feel that way for a long time, and “home” might look different than you imagined. But if you’re lucky, one day you’ll be walking down a wisteria-lined path on Cross Campus in your senior spring and it’ll hit you: I never, ever want to leave. Which brings me to
- Leaving. It feels impossible, and it doesn’t seem to be worth doing, either. How can you leave such a special, formative place, a place you earned and that, over time, earned your love in return? But think of how much you’ll carry with you when you go. At Yale, you learned to derive a logical argument and the definition of “hermeneutics,” but more than anything you built character. Leaving Yale will crystallize these last four (or more, or less) years for you, and only stepping away will enable you to really see how much you’ve grown. The end is what makes the experience worth something. And it is worth more than you can imagine.
At this point, I may have exhausted this structural device. But it’s funny — the more we ruminate on it, the more the word ‘impossible’ starts to lose all meaning. After all, that’s how you’re here in the first place, isn’t it? Getting into Yale was supposed to be impossible, and yet you applied anyway because you knew that even so, it was worth doing. And now you’re graduating, and you’re a little older and wiser and your hair might be a little shorter or longer, and you’re gazing into the future and you’re thinking, Anything is possible. And you’re right. It is.