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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Carleton and the real world

<ir="ltr">I was a bit of an odd first year at Carleton. I kept my Zoobook and would check people’s names off when I met them, and then quiz myself most nights to remember their names. I’d go over the Participants list on my moodle classes so I could greet them by name. I didn’t drink my first year (a proud resident of the somewhat sober 2nd Muss), and I would have full memory of all the people I’d met the night before at a party, saying hello to their sorry hungover selves the next day with enthusiasm. I’d made a deal with my incoming first year self that I would greet everyone I knew by name, even if they never said hi back to me or I said the wrong name.

I think that little goal changed everything about my time here at Carleton. Acknowledging someone’s existence, letting them know you see and recognize them, is an incredibly validating experience. It massively expanded my social circles and the sorts of conversations, friendships and spaces I was welcomed into. I would awkwardly greet seniors as well as first years, the random townies I met, my prefects and the people I knew wouldn’t remember me from our conversation at the party the night before. I found scribbled notes from my first year notebook, “it’s a good day when 90% of people say hi back.”

I don’t remember exactly when I lost that goal- a lot happened that made me focus less on expanding my friendships and memorizing names. I took stupidly difficult course loads, got hurt by friendships ending, became caught up in time consuming relationships, and grew distance between my friends by becoming an RA and getting involved in CSA. The resulting isolation often made me question my belonging at Carleton, and my choices in choosing to go down routes that made me prioritize my relationships less.

Being happy at Carleton for me has been finding a balance between sitting in Sayles and talking to random passerbys, and having tough jobs and interesting problems which keep me engaged and invested. I think finding communities that appreciate you, work that engages you, and sources of energy that keep you from burning out is a lifelong balancing act. At least at Carleton, enthusiastically greeting people and going out on a limb to remember someone’s name has led to all three of those things- not necessarily at the same time- but allowed me to practice caring, careful pronunciation, and willingness to look like a fool. As a newcomer in places, I’ve deeply appreciated the first person who learned my name and said it with enthusiasm. Doing that says, “hello, I see you, you’re noticed and wanted in this place.”

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