Senior reflections are cliché, corny and almost always try too hard to impart some kind of life lesson: be yourself, love your family, grow in your relationship with god and spend every day thankful for the gifts you have received, especially for being able to attend Xavier.
While these lessons are important, they can also appear superficial. This is not to say that the revelations of my fellow seniors are inauthentic or lack meaning. I merely wish to draw attention to the harsh reality of senior reflections: beautiful articles written on overdone topics are powerless. In an attempt to combat the dying art of senior reflection writing, I’m going write about reading, pop punk and whisky sours.
As a double major in the humanities, I have written hundreds of pages during my time at Xavier. To write those papers, I had to read even more pages, from books, to books about books, to books explaining or critiquing other books about books. And somewhere, ideally, in all those papers and dusty library pages I was supposed to learn something.
Yet, I can confidently say that most days this was not the case. Most papers were written too late at night to reflect what I actually thought and most reading was done with too little time to actually retain any content. I have, however, learned something from what appears like a useless academic struggle. In the same way that education, and specifically reading books, can give life, it can also take it away.
Too much time with Gatsby and Fitzgerald won’t teach you a thing about hope. Reading is dangerous, especially when it leads one to forsake the experiences that inspire stories in the first place. Books can kill, and it is time we realize that. Typical to an article like this might be a quote by Emerson or Thoreau, but instead I’d like to recall a lyric from a song we all knew when we were angsty teenagers: “It’s a new day, but it all feels old/ It’s a good life, that’s what I’m told/ But everything, it all just feels the same.”
Strangely enough, these Good Charlotte lyrics speak more to me now in my “maturity” than they ever did when I was struggling with acne and dancing in mosh pits, and even more so to my disagreement with senior reflections. Like the books we over read, senior reflections lose the beauty, the truth and the meaning embedded within their words if we spend too little time writing them and too much time dwelling on them. They become cliché, preachy or, in the words of Good Charloette, feel “old,” “just the same” and fail to teach us anything good or meaningful about being a senior at Xavier.
Inevitably, my small revolt against the senior reflection is contradictory in its nature. By trying to avoid cliché, I fall into it. I admit, unfortunately, that it is very difficult to avoid cliché when writing about such a sensitive topic. However, this does not make my article up to now pointless. Rather, it has created the soap box that I can now proudly stand upon.
Words are nothing if we do not recognize the life that stands behind them. We are not meant to live in front of a computer screen or in the library stacks but in the mosh pits, on the fields and at the bars. Without meaningful experience, words are empty and will remain empty if experience is not championed above reading accounts of experience, or even accounts of accounts of experience.
To close, I will say that I love few things more than a good whiskey sour. In the senior week to come, you can expect to find me every night at Dana’s, drink in hand. While I don’t have the money to buy you one as well, come. Be a part of my experience, and I’ll be a part of yours. Let our experiences become stories of our own, written in the memories of one another.