Senior Wisdom: Sara Lederman
Written by Bwog Staff
Name, Hometown, School, Major: Sara Lederman, Minneapolis, MN (home of the most genuine hipsters…we wear flannel because it’s cold/we are real-life lumberjacks). Barnard, Anthropology with a minor in Religion
Claim to Fame? Purpled-nosed Reindeer with serious sinus infections in XMAS! 5; went to India twice this year (hanging out with Indian Muppets and then rural sex workers – thank you, Barnard); managing editor for Sanctum, a small religious thought publication you’ve never heard of; having the fluffiest bed at the Bayit.
Where are you going? To quote Noemi Schor: the retirement home. Really, I have no set plans, much to my mother’s chagrin. There are a few options I’m still considering: some involve Nepali street theatre, others involve working with awesome professors, and the most compelling one involves selling everything I own just to pay rent in the swanky East Village so I can sit on fire escapes and belt out show tunes into the night forever and ever.
Three things you learned at Columbia:
- Kvetching gets you nowhere: The line separating “criticism” and “complaint” can be dangerously thin. Try to do something positive with your dissatisfaction. Sometimes you need to just let it all out and complain… that’s human. But people do it way too much here, including myself (as I complain about complaining on Bwog). I’ve learned that while Columbia overflows with brains, talents, ambitions, and passion, one thing it definitely lacks is positivity. People have so much to be happy about on this campus… so why do so few people smile or hold elevator doors?!
- “Networking” is oh so very silly: No matter what Career Services says, over the past 4 years I’ve seen how contrived “networking” can be. That’s not to diminish the importance of meeting new people and making connections, but it has to be a sincere gesture. Barnard has taught me the importance of developing and maintaining genuine relationships by simply being me — not collecting as many business cards as humanly possible while wearing an insufferably itchy polyester suit.
- Celebrate as much as you can: It’s ok to spend days in libraries, but only if you can counter them with days spent outside (preferably on the Highline with ice cream in hand).
“Back in my day…” Construction noises booming from the Diana was white noise. Even in Sulz. All day, every day. And people still giggled when they said “The Vag”. Scratch that – people still said “The Vag”.
Justify your existence in 30 words or less: I finger-paint and read “Everyone Poops” on a weekly basis. My friends are superheroes. I listen to people debate about whether or not a bagel-cutter is kosher 60 minutes/week.
Is the War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories? I have not really witnessed the War on Fun, but I have witnessed the War on Meaningful and Effective Programming. I don’t know why, but I’ve found myself tangled in a few administrative webs. And that can just majorly blow. But once you get over the initial frustrations, you realize that there are so many ways to circumvent the insanely bureaucratized system. It may feel at times that the student-administration relationship is an antagonistic one, but once you find an administrator/professor who wants to develop a real partnership (Rachel Romesburg! Gale Kenny! Tovah Klein! Dean Blank! Megan Goldman! Hell, even D-Spar!), you realize the “war” is really nothing more than a state of mind.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? “Aren’t you lactose intolerant? “ – quote Nava Kantor. Yes, Nava. Yes, indeed I am. I guess that genetic disposition makes my decision pretty easy. I’ll make my Jewish Eastern European Old Country ancestors proud by confidently answering with “oral sex”. Hi, Baubie and Zaide!
Advice for the class of 2016:
- You may not find out what you want to be for the rest of your life. But if you play your cards right, you’ll discover who/how/why you want to be. And that’s a pretty spectacular discovery.
- Also, when people suck (because they will), try coping by imagining them as a ridiculous cartoon character (running around frantically in circles/ramming into walls/blowing steam out of their ears/pianos dropping on them… whatever floats your schadenfreude boat). It’s wildly entertaining.
Any regrets? I think, generally, something I regret is focusing a bit too much on the final product and less on the process. Delusional Sour Patch Kids-fueled all nighters! Endless lab reports on plants you could care less about! Peer editing a mind-blowing, award-deserving thesis when yours is not even close to being done! The results themselves are often far less impressive than the processes. Being goal-oriented is important, but it is also distracting and can be disempowering if it dictates how you operate. Easier said than done, obviously. But so it goes.