After three years, learning to put people first

I have never been able to attend the annual Raft Debate at the College of William and Mary. Realizing that this year was my last chance, I marked the event on my calendar to make sure I could cheer on my beloved humanities in the debate.

Then I accidentally scheduled dinner with someone for the same time as the Raft Debate. Recognizing that my final opportunity to attend the event was slowly slipping out of my hands, I thought about texting my friend to see if we could eat dinner together another day. Thinking that rescheduling would be rude, I decided to keep the dinner date and save the Raft Debate for another day. (After all, if I don’t have a job next year at this time, I’ll definitely have time to return to campus to watch next year’s debate.)

I ended up talking to my friend for three hours that night about the struggles and joys we were both experiencing. The conversation was one of the best I’ve had this year, yet I stupidly almost rescheduled it because I wanted to witness one of the College’s traditions.

So I’ll never see a Raft Debate while a student at the College. The great thing about traditions is that they happen every year, so I could return in the future (hopefully as an employed alumna) for this tradition and the other great traditions at our school.

Our student body, myself included, can be really bad at putting people first. We would rather put studying, club meetings or big events on campus before people who may really need us. And in a way, it’s easier to put those things first because relationships, romantic or otherwise, can be messy. Yet, the relationships we form are vital and help us get through the worst days. Senior year has taught me the importance of the friendships we form in college. During my freshman year, I might have put an event before a person, but now I’m learning that friendships last so much longer and are so much more fulfilling than one-time occasions.

As I’m working on applying to graduate schools and trying to keep up with my schoolwork, I’m making sure to commit to my friendships, because next year at this time, most of my friends and I won’t be on campus together. We could be spread across the country or even the globe. The years I have at college with friends are precious and shorter than I think. When trying to decide whether to go to some random event or spend time with a friend, most of the time, I find it best to choose the latter.


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