A letter to my extracurriculars

    To all of my Northwestern extracurriculars,

    I guess I should have seen this coming, but now that it’s here I really don’t know where to start. So I’ll begin by saying that over the past four months, I’ve loved getting to know you. You’re so ambitious, so full of potential. I knew that the moment we met. Through the whirlwind of the Wildcat Welcome activities fair, you caught my eye and I felt my heart flutter. We chatted, and after you told me about yourself, I gave you my email address. No big deal, but my hand was still shaking as I wrote out “u.northwestern.edu”. I couldn’t stop smiling as I walked out of Norris.

    Over the next few days, my inbox was flooded with messages from everyone I had met at the fair, all asking me to meet up to get to know them better. I showed up to a lot of those meetings, but only your PowerPoint drew me in. You were engaging and vibrant, and I knew I would be back. It was a beautiful fall.

    I looked forward to getting together each week, regardless of how much homework I had or how little sleep I was running on. Together, we made plans, had rehearsals, held events and promoted ourselves all over Facebook. Coming into Northwestern, I, like a lot of other freshmen, didn’t have any connections. But when we met, I became a part of the university, and more importantly, became a part of you.

    Yet something happened over the course of fall quarter. As I had new experiences through classes, extracurriculars and friends, I began to change. My views developed. My values were questioned. And in the end, my interests shifted. I am not the same man you met in front of that tri-fold board in September.

    It’s not that I don’t like you anymore. I just don’t know what I want right now, and I think I need to explore for a while. In the words of Fergie, myself and I, we got some straightenin’ out to do.

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I want you to know that it hasn’t been easy for me. I sometimes wonder if I should just be happy with what we have, rather than wasting valuable time with “exploration”. In this economy, the pressure to stuff my resumé to the brim is very real, and I only have four years to do it. On top of that pressure is the guilt that, for my parents, those years don’t come cheap. By this logic, it seems like the best use of my time is to just stay with you and accomplish as much as possible.

    But I haven’t only thought about my future. I also worry about what this will do to you. Questions haunt my dreams, making me toss and turn at night:

    Is it selfish of me to go? Will you hate me if I leave?

    And after building such a close relationship with you, I’m also scared to be alone again.

    Will another group, with established plans for the future, want me when I haven’t been there to help create those plans? Will I be able to get close with them when they already have their own jokes, memories and traditions that I’m not a part of? But one fear looms over them all: What if I’m wrong?

    Would you take me back?

    I’ve agonized for weeks about that question. Knowing how I feel right now, I’ve tried to think about what I would do if it was the opposite, and you were leaving me. At first, I think I’d feel hurt, angry, perhaps even betrayed. But because I love you, I would support you. I would talk to you and tell you that I want you to find what makes you happy. And that, no matter what, I will always be here if you want to come back. No hard feelings.

    As I step back into the open world, I hope that you can move on as well. Nothing would bring me more joy than to see you out there looking for someone else who can make you happy. Don’t let people forget that you exist after those first few weeks in the fall, and don’t wait for them to come to you. Get dressed up, put yourself out there and show that you want them, and that they should want you back. For a group as beautiful as you, they’ll be fighting just to get on the listserv.

    In spite of my fears and doubts, I know in my heart that this is what I have to do. The real waste of money would be settling for something I’m not sure about because I was too scared to go after what I really want. And though it’s daunting to try to build a new relationship with a group that is already established, if they can provide me with a truly meaningful experience, it’s worth the awkward introductions and small talk. I just can’t let that chance go.

    Maybe I will be wrong, and you will turn out to be the meaning that I was always looking for. But in order to really know, I need to explore who I am. I hope you can understand this, and that you know how much I value what we have together.

    If you ever want to talk, I’m on the GroupMe.

    With love, Scott


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