Thrive on Campus//

Well, That Was a Mess

I'm reflecting on a first year at Swarthmore that involved a lot of tears, a lot of laughs, and a lot of mess.

Jabez Ed Ruiz / EyeEm / Getty Images
Jabez Ed Ruiz / EyeEm / Getty Images

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Foreword: Article was originally written in April of 2018 to reflect the end of my freshman year at Swarthmore College. I am now in my sophomore year, and it is still currently a mess, but more on that later.

Wow. Just like that, my first year at Swarthmore is almost over. The days of claiming innocent naivety, being the baby on the block, and being able to ride the train of not knowing what the heck to major in are unfortunately coming to a close. The coming of Swatstruck marked the final nail in the coffin for the class of 2021’s reign. As soon as the class of 2022 stepped foot on campus, our youthful charm was sucked right out of us.

I speak for myself and many other first years when I say that this year was both the shortest and longest year of my life, the most joyful and most traumatic, the year in which I shed the most happy tears and the most not-at-all-happy-oh-God tears. While I feel as though I’ve been at Swarthmore for years upon years at this point, it also feels like it was just yesterday I was waving bye to Mom and Dad as they left Ben West. As a result, I feel as though it would be cathartic to go through all of the stuff that has taken place this year — to torture myself, or at the very least to get a pity chuckle or two. I also realize that this campus is small, and any vague rendering of something that could be related to someone somewhere will get connected. Thus, I will attempt to ride the line between honesty and respecting the fact that Swatties are intuitive enough to connect the dots. 

Rewinding, we will go all the way back to orientation — yes, the mess that has been freshman year started all the way back in orientation (or, if we want to get into technicalities, the day before orientation, as I took part in Tri-Co).

Orientation was an interesting time for me. I was bright-eyed and not at all cynical for what was to come. Not only that, I was determined to try new things and take inspiration from Shonda Rhimes with my “year of yes.” Yes, I would smoke that drug. And that drug. And that drug. Yes, I would drink that drink. And that drink. And that drink. Yes, I would make out with that boy. And that boy. And that boy. 

Before I knew it, I was three days into orientation week, filled with weed, hickies on my neck, and regret in, on, around my everywhere. Not only that, I found myself in a love triangle I wanted no part of, but that I was single-handedly orchestrating. Days were spent alternating between two boys who were some of my best friends on campus. Overnight, my chest became a battleground for who could most dramatically stake their claim. 

The honeymoon stage of being in a hot and steamy love triangle with two boys who each thought very negatively of the other was short-lived though, as one day before classes officially started the love triangle became a love line. With one boy out, I brushed it off initially and told myself that this was better for all parties involved. For said breaker-upper, I figured that it was inevitable anyway, and that we would function much better as friends than whatever the heck we had been over orientation week.

Two weeks later, we hooked up again. 

Because of course we did!

It’s Swarthmore. It wouldn’t be Swarthmore without the breaks, the agony, the awkward smiles, the even more awkward everything elses. 

And thus marked the beginning of the “oh-wait-I’m-not-at-all-over-this-actually-am-I?” This would last from roughly mid-September to mid-November. Lots of tears would be shed during this time — in the bathroom, in my room, in Sharples, in the amphitheater, in McCabe. Just like that, I was unintentionally going through every single spot on BuzzFeed’s “Where to Cry at Swarthmore College” list. 

During this time, more boys entered and exited the scene. The previous love triangle became more of a love web as this boy hooked up with that boy who hooked up with me who hooked up with him who hooked up with you. The Swat Seven seemed as though it was coming naturally to me, as in two weeks I had already crossed off the Class of 2021 and Class of 2019.

This, of course, resulted in a long mess that I will not go in the details of, but again, lots of tears, frustration, anger, etc. etc. etc. ensued. As first semester continued — yes, all of this still took place in first semester — I decided to branch out of Swarthmore and look elsewhere. Feeling as though my options were already running thin after a few months, I knew that if I wanted to get anywhere I would have to try new things, be willing to make mistakes, go to… Penn.

Of course, in retrospect, this was a huge mistake. But either way, I whisked myself off to Penn and there I met a boy who gave me a chin hickey among other things. I was in awe of his shaved head, his cool, nonchalant personality, and the fact that he wasn’t a Swattie. (That’s all it takes, boys!) Sadly, when he was trying to come over on a Monday night, I realized he just wasn’t attuned to the Swat lifestyle, and it just wasn’t going to work out. 

My body count was increasing, so I decided I needed to take a break. From new men. Past hookups were fine — they wouldn’t add to the body count, and I could justify them with the fact that I was simply trying to relive my days of youth at Swat. (Again, I was still in my first semester; the life cycle of a Swattie is interesting to say the least.) So, stupidly, I decided to go back to hooking up with boys who, I should’ve left as first-month mistakes, but instead had now become central characters in the story. Haha! Bad, bad choice. But I was a first year! I had my innocent naivety to fall back on! My unassuming smile! My I-just-watched-Fight-Club-and-thought-one-of-you-was-just-a-figment-of-my-imagination! 

Sometime early on in second semester, I finally came to the realization that getting Matchboxed to one of these love web boys was futile. Thus, I decided to look elsewhere.

I found myself in the process.

Haha. Just kidding. Wouldn’t that be cliché! No, I found a closeted sports bro instead.

Anyway, the specifics of that aren’t really important. Funnily enough, even though this first-year has been a mess in every definition of the word, I wouldn’t have chosen to alter it in any way. Yes, mistakes were made over and over and over again, but I feel ready to take on sophomore year wise, unafraid, and ready to laugh at myself when I inevitably make new mistakes. So here’s to sophomore year! Here’s to growth! Here’s to laughing at our mistakes and growing from them! Here’s to the friends who are there for you throughout all the mistakes! 

Here’s to another mess!

Originally published at

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More on Mental Health on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis

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