Our last Senior Wisdom of the day comes from the beautiful and badass Anna Bahr. If you don’t already know who she is, get ready for some serious learnin’.
Name, Hometown, School, Major: Anna Bahr, Los Angeles loyalist, Barnard, “Political Science”
Claim to fame: Managing Editor of The Blue and White. Among other things, I wrote stuff about student debt, sexual assault, killing mice, and why I know what I’m talking about. Natural volume of my voice is a few decibels louder than your avg human, so you’ve probably heard me whining with a soft yell in Butler.
Where are you going? Headed to The Upshot at the NYT for at least a bit.
What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2018?
1) Try not to be an asshole. For a long time I thought post-adolescence was an unavoidably selfish time. But we can try a little harder. Freshman year especially can be tough: everybody has the same new shot at being their best or coolest self and everybody knows it’s a little phony and embarrassing and everybody feels insecure and uncertain. There’s a lot to be gained from being kinder and more generous with people than you expect yourself to be. Curb the judgment for at least a minute. Also, try not to pat yourselves on the back for your SAT scores or college acceptance letters. It’s boring.
2) Learning is for you. It’s really easy to forget that. A perfect GPA doesn’t have to be the be-all-end-all validation of your work. Self-worth has to come from inside yourself. Don’t let the melodrama of finals and theses and B+s corrupt the basic enjoyment you get from reading and writing (or, you know, math–whatever floats ur boat). We’re really lucky to have four years to do this.
3) Read Joan Didion’s “On Self-Respect.” I am of the sincere belief it says the some of the most important things you’ll need to know about being a person.
If you’ve already read that, then I’ll turn it over to Sugar. Don’t let your stony hearts be dissuaded by the “honey buns” and “sweet peas.” New Sincerity isn’t really my vibe but this is serious stuff.
She says it better than I ever could: “The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.”
4) This university has a lot of money and a lot of power. You are a tiny shareholder, but you are one nevertheless. Pay attention to where Columbia invests its resources, and say something when you aren’t happy with it.
“Back in my day…” RIP P&W sandwiches, I miss you all the time. RIP La Negrita/”NoCo Lounge,” which was proof that all bars should serve fried chicken. RIP Campo, which taught me a lot about the kinds of places in which I would never choose to spend time. RIP coffee in Morningside Heights costing less than $2 a cup.
Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: My tooth fell out while I was sitting next to Judith Butler and she didn’t notice.
Write your most memorable note from the field: http://guysamerican.com/
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? I’ve always been confused about this question. If field trips taught me anything it’s that the entire premise of the “would you rather” game is making a Tough Choice between two miserable choices? Worse and worser. Thusly I pose this question: Would you rather drink only room temp milk forever or have all future makeouts be reminiscent of middle school metal mouth era?
One thing to do before graduating: Let’s keep it seasonal. The swings in Riverside during spring. Mr. Softee during summer. The Cloisters during fall. Coney Island during winter.
I don’t give a damn whether you do these things with people you like or by yourself, but doing them feels verrrrry Important to me.
Any regrets? A million. Should have read more pages of more books. Should have figured out how to take care of myself earlier and better. Should have spent more hours with people I think are really special. Should have listened more and talked less. Should have showed up on time to see Fleetwood Mac last spring because I missed I Don’t Wanna Know. Should have figured out earlier that, based on ability, my karaoke song is Africa, not Wuthering Heights.