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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

No Shame Senior Year: Discretion, respect, confidence

I keep having these moments as a senior, nearly seven semesters deep in Macalester knowledge, where I realize how I have changed in my time here. I can never quantify it to people (namely, parents worried about my applicable skills), but it is most certainly real.

The last time I was a senior, I chose Macalester in part because of its size and its eccentric student body. As a pretty shy individual (believe it or not), I knew that a school of 1,900 would be a comfortable fit.

It is safe to say, however, that we have all learned in one way or another that this compact campus can only hold so many secrets and that our actions and our comments do not fall away into an abyss. A shameful moment on a Saturday night will crop up in conversation at Sunday brunch, or possibly say “hi” to you when getting a glass of orange juice.

What we say and do defines how people see us. Making decisions and choosing words with care is not a sign of being a bland individual, but rather of being a mature one. This can be evidenced in many classrooms, where the person who talks the most does not necessarily have the most to say. The student with the most sagacious comment may be one that takes a minute to process and generate a response.

While college can seemingly be a tabula rasa of identity to a new freshman, haven’t our classes shown that there is really never any such blank slate in life? Like many other freshmen, I left my embarrassing stories and high school cynicism in a small town far away. Instead of remaking myself at Macalester, I was finally able to be and further discover who I really am. After initially hitting the ground freshman year, it became clear that those who were trying to present a created persona came across as fake and those embracing the Macalester mentality of being their semi-weird selves were getting along great.

The virtues of discretion and respect are very much interconnected and, when remembered, go a long way to strengthen our relationships within and outside of the Macalester community. Having the discretion to not yell as you walk down Fry to a weekend party is also an act of respect for our neighbors. As we learn these concepts beginning freshman year (and likely before), Macalester students are able to express their dynamic selves in an environment that accepts all of their differences.

This is what I love most about Macalester. I come back each semester and breathe a sigh of happiness that I am where I belong with other quirky kids, in their many different manifestations. I refer lovingly to Macalester as the Island of Misfit Toys. Though there may be people very different than myself with very different views, I am glad to share a campus with them.

Talking with a friend freshman year, I recall being very frustrated after a class discussion where others were saying things I wholeheartedly disagreed with. That was the moment it clicked – this is what it’s all about, that to be challenged is the experience.

A yoga teacher once told me that you must strive to love the pose that challenges you most, and in that freshman instant it registered that the challenge of thought I felt in class was the most invigorating thing I had encountered in a long time.

I have been asked why I chose “No Shame Senior Year” as the title of my column. Aside from the more obvious answer that in this column I am sharing my personal experiences in print for the benefit and giggles of others, this mantra is something I really feel is at the heart of what it means to be a Macalester senior.

No shame does not mean that making shameful decisions and then laughing them off as inconsequential is a goal this year. That in fact, is the last example I want our senior class to set for underclassmen who will be defining the identity of Macalester after we leave. Rather, this slogan is something we should hold dear as a symbol of what we have come to learn in our four years here. You may find empowerment in not being ashamed of being a total goof, because you no longer feel the need to impress people with an air of coolness.

You may finally be okay with sitting in Café Mac alone. You may feel confident in your decision to wear the outrageous clothes you bought in New York last summer and normally would not wear in Minnesota. Or perhaps, you no longer worry about being seen at that party on a Saturday night that you are not really interested in going to anyway, so you pass it up to enjoy conversation and a bottle of wine with old friends.

The point is (if I haven’t already beaten it to death), that “no shame” means living and being a member of the Macalester community in a way in which you are confident. It means enjoying your friends and no longer worrying about what people who are not your friends think of you. It means making decisions based on no other reason than that your choice makes you happy.

As Macalester students, we have learned that being discreet with our personal lives and not offending others is in our best interest and that of the community. But I hope, that as seniors and underclassman alike, we can all take pride in flying our freak flags and equally respect that others’ choices may be different than our own. I know I am having an incredibly enjoyable year without shame, and I hope you can too by being true to your personal convictions and refraining from actions or comments at the expense of others’.

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