Letter to a Stranger

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Photo by Victoria Clark

By Victoria Clark

Dear Stranger,

I don’t know you. Yet, if I know myself enough, then I could guess a little bit about you. The way you walk tells me if you’re in a rush or if you’ve got time to wander into the camellia garden. Where you choose to sit in the library tells me if you want to be hidden from the world or if you’re alright with catching a gaze of someone walking by. If you have headphones in, I know I don’t have a chance of speaking with you. If you’re staring at your feet as you walk, I know your path is set. If your hands are tucked deep into your pockets, you tell me there’s no chance in getting a hello back from you today.

Our lives are busy, whether we purposefully try to keep ourselves occupied or not. We’re constantly moving, and always walking past the moments of our lives that we should be using as pauses. Everyone is so caught up trying to chase the moments in their lives that they think are important instead of letting the moments become memorable on their own. If you paused a moment and noticed all the life around you, then imagine all you could do in this world.

You could sail on a rain puddle if it rained enough outside. You could spread your arms and fly if the wind was strong enough to pick you up. You could live in a boot if they made them that big, or have a pet whale if your fishbowl could hold him.

Those are just a few ideas.

Or…

You could chance a conversation with someone passing by if you keep your head up as you walk. You could compliment a stranger about their appearance as you wait in line to buy the coffee that’ll get you through the morning (or a long night of studying). You could put your headphones in your pocket, as you make your way across the campus, or wave hello to the person sitting in their car at the red light next to you.

You see, every day you tell the world a story without using your words. Your mannerisms give you away. The way we handle ourselves in public, and the way we treat others, adds definition to who we are as individuals. I want to remind you that the person you keep inside yourself should come say hello.

A couple of weeks ago, I wandered into the library, mentally preparing myself to tackle my pile of homework, and as I walked in I ran into an older woman who was walking out. We bumped shoulders, caught eyes, and both frantically apologized for running into the other, but I had never seen this woman before. The two of us shook hands after our many “sorrys” cleared the air. A bright and bubbly “hello” escaped her lips, as if she had met me before, and she wished me a good afternoon. Then, the woman turned, and rejoined the group she had been walking with. It sounds like such a small moment, nothing to remember in the many things that happen in our days, yet I still remember this woman who greeted me with as much enthusiasm as she would have greeted a friend. This moment was memorable because instead of walking the paved path that could get me from Point A to Point B, with headphones in and head down, I was knocked off my path and forced to make eye contact with another human.

I know it’s shocking, but other people exist.

I’m trying to tell you not to be afraid of other people. Sometimes a simple “hello,” an interest in someone’s well being, or an inquiry about someone’s day may be enough of a knock to remind them to break down their wall and become an engaging human again. A part of being human is being okay with letting go of yourself bit by bit, trusting the world inch by inch, and being vulnerable enough to greet each new day with enough humility to make a difference in someone else’s day.

You don’t know me, but you may know yourself well enough to guess a little bit about me.

Sincerely,

Someone to Say “Hello” to

The Price We Pay For Being Gay

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Artwork by Samantha Ellis

By Samantha Ellis

Growing up, you are taught to love many different individuals. You love your parents, your family, supposedly your siblings (but you are not always sure). You love your friends, your mentors, your pets. If you are a girl, you are supposed to find a nice young boy to bring home to the family. If you are a boy, you are supposed to find a kind girl to start a family with. Traditionally, this is taught to us as love. But what happens when your love deviates from the traditional? What do you do when you find yourself in love with your best friend? She was loud and brash with a brain that far excelled my own. Her hands were always cold but warmer than any other I held, and her eyes, they were beautiful. They told far more stories than I had ever remembered spilling from a boy’s mouth. In this situation, what do you do?

I buried these feelings, far down where I did not have to see or feel them. “This isn’t normal.” I said. “This isn’t how the world teaches you to love your friends.” I would argue. But somewhere along the line I forced myself to accept it. But what was it exactly that I was accepting?

That I was gay.

I have known that I liked girls since I was 13, came out to friends years later, and when I turned 18 I gained the confidence to be able to call myself gay. I told my parents soon after, and luckily, they love and support me regardless. But they stay worried. “Are you sure?” They ask. “It is a dangerous world out there.” They remind me. Being gay comes with a risk, a stigma, a long line of other queer individuals that have died fighting for the rights I have and are still denied. This love has come with a price.

I, as well as many others pay for it daily when it comes to holding our partners’ hands, ignoring slurs and those who believe our rights have not been deserved, mourning those who we have lost to years of homophobia and racism. None of it is deserved, and it takes its toll on all who experience it. My love is not traditional, but is more authentic than any other I have experienced in my life.

This love has created me, fueled my passions, and wakes me every day and reminds me of who I am. This love has given me friends, crushes, and worlds I would have never explored otherwise. But the taboo around it has taken as well. It has taken connections, opportunities, loved ones, and potential friends. When a close friend’s parents would not accept who she was, they had to learn to accept her death. The price of this love is steep. I miss her every day.

But when given the option, I would pick my love every time. My love will change our world, and it is changing our world, one day at a time. One day, these prices will not have to be paid.

I am gay, and I am full of love.

From the President’s Desk: February 2017

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Hello Honors!

As Core 2 and our seminars start once again, so does the spring semester! I hope everyone’s 2017 has gotten off to a great start!

After a hiatus from Infinite Wisdom, we are now ready to start rolling out articles for the new year! Our new editors, Jay Ayer, and Joe Cox, have begun the process of getting Infinite Wisdom back to full strength. By having a new set of themes for each month, we can offer a wide variety of publishing opportunities. With that being said, please feel free to send any pieces of work to Jay or Joe!

On the Council side of things, we are incorporating more types of professional, personal, and Honors development pieces into our meetings. We have had Career Services come and speak about resume building and display, and we have had a talk on public speaking tips and strategies. As we find ourselves in February, we will continue this track while balancing our Council election schedule. My two tips for everyone:

  1. SHOW UP TO COUNCIL!

We have these professional development opportunities in place for Honors students alone! Please take advantage of each meeting to incorporate new personal strategies, or to enhance what you may have learned along the way. Look at the Honors Updates to see what topics we will be covering!

  1. Interested in Honors Leadership? SEE STEP 1

Many of you guys have expressed interest in becoming a leader within the Council and Program. The best way to gauge your position of interest is to come to Council (Where a leader in each category will be present)!!! If anybody cannot make it to the Council meetings, please get in touch with me and I will be sure to give you guys the most accurate information possible!

Again, thank you all for your efforts to the Honors Council and the Kugelman Honors Program! I hope to report even more positive things in the future!

Thank You!

Anthony