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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

How to be Successful this year

<! You are reading the newspaper of your college, a pleasant little college in Minnesota, a state that you know is north of most other states, but that’s pretty much it. Tell me how your week has been. Tell me how you bought a poster at the poster sale and then posted it on the eggshell walls of your room. Tell me about your ambivalence regarding some classes, about how you already forgot to water your plant, but you watered it twice the next day so it’s even now. Tell me about that distant, luminescent crush you’ve started nurturing like a frail but flearidden bird that has just fallen out of its nest: with great care but from very far away. Tell me
about how happy you are that fall has arrived, and ask me if I don’t just love the fall too. I’ll say yes! Of course. And we will separate, equally satisfied with our congenial trivialities and equally dissatisfied, craving
something indistinguishable, something more.

The thing is, you really want to be successful; you want a lot for yourself whether or not you let yourself admit that. You care and you try, but Success, ah Success. Success and its sneaky cousin, Satisfaction. They ride on the horned helmet of Osiris; they nestle into the soft underfluff of the baby penguin; they float in glowing bundles in the Pacific with other small slippery creatures under a dusty coal sky. They always seem to evade us. Success is difficult because it is the opposite of easy. As John Mulaney relates, “It is 100% easier to not do something than to do it.” And we are here to do, not to not do or worse yet, to undo. To redo, yes. Let me redo the beginning of this article:

So here we are again in our bubble of green, glass, brick, metal, wall-to-wall carpets, and fear. Certainly she meant to say beer! No? Fear? Fear of what?

All Carleton students eventually harbor a profound fear of the unknown. Of not knowing, to be more exact. Of being the one person who doesn’t know. Know what word Brian just used, what rock meteors are made of (meteorite?), how many electoral college votes Nevada has, why modern man has ascended to his present point of apex predation, where Elon Musk gets his teeth cleaned (he probably has a self-motorized, solar-energized microfibric inter-oral mechanism that whitens and slays halitosis breathlessly 😉 ). Carleton students want to know much more than they really could at this point in their lives. In the words of John Mayer (second John quoted—I promise to be more diverse in my references next time), “say what you need to say” even if it is “I have no preabsorbed knowledge on this topic. Can you explain?” Don’t let those words sit, curdling, around
your larynx. Ask and you shall receive, even if it is a “What! You don’t know who Nietzsche is?! Oh man, oh man.” (I admit to having been both the asker and the reactor, and the latter is far, far preferable).

It is easy at this institution to run from one impending obligation into the headlights of another. For example, I wanted to give you some advice for this year, and I hardly ~succeeded~ and now I’m almost out of space. When in doubt, make a list, since we all love them.

Advice for this year:

1. When in doubt, make a list.
2. Admit you know nothing about most things but want and are willing to learn
3. Admit you are an okay person with a special set of skills and that no matter what you are late for, you didn’t
miss the bus that takes you there- because our school is too small for busses so you walk quickly and make it
in time to nod meekly at everyone and pull out – a toothbrush? Put that back – a pen and start taking notes.
You’ve got this, you tell yourself, and deep down, you know it’s true. 

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