Letter from the Editor 04.29.2021
On change, boybands, and seeing the glass half full
To quote a little Big Time Rush, “We’re halfway there,” and despite most of these letters ending up as diatribes on my anxiety and loneliness, I’m going to do something different. To mark the first finish line of my term as editor–in–chief, I am going to end with optimism.
Being a “glass–half–full” person is hard—like, really fucking difficult—which is likely why I’ve never tried to define myself as one. It involves seeing things that aren’t there, or haven’t yet manifested, in the people, places, and things that are mostly bound to disappoint us. In the most basic sense, it means seeing best friend potential in the guy that broke your heart or that less–than–stellar essay grade as a chance to try a new major next semester. But in the more meta sense, it means seeing the potential in yourself—and remembering that potential in moments that feel like dead ends.
I know most of us don’t need this sentiment reiterated anymore, but we did the unthinkable: We completed a year at an institution hell–bent on burning us out during a pandemic, a coup, and innumerable incidents of racial violence. We started businesses, mobilized community organizing efforts, and reminded our campus administration to do better every single day. Even more radically, we learned how to rest. We took mental health days, set boundaries, and learned to languish in the beauty of a long walk.
In other words, we began prioritizing ourselves and our passions. And as we look toward a new academic year that will likely feel a whole lot more like Penn normally does, we need to keep doing that—even as the pressure to do more looms over Locust Walk.
At Penn, seeing the glass half full doesn’t necessarily equate to always seeing the good in things. At Penn, being an optimist is a lot more practical. At Penn, seeing the glass half full means acknowledging the wrongness of things and finding a way to make them better, or at least tolerable. Sure, this isn’t a romantic way of thinking, but it’s an effective one. It ushered in more expansive pass/fail, a commitment to net–zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (however lackluster), and COVID–19 testing for our dining workers.
Sure, we understand how to see the glass half full in our activism. But why has it been so hard to do the same in our personal lives?
So, as we begin to scramble for fall semester classes and last–minute internships, I implore us to be “glass–half–full” people. I implore us to take more naps, allocate more time to mindless hobbies, to actually grab coffee with our friends. I implore us to keep trying to find ways to depressurize this campus, even if it means spending a little less time in the library or on LinkedIn.
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