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Spencer Small

I’m sitting on my friend’s couch with a Keystone Light, watching playoff hockey, trying to think of something clever to say for my farewell column. Something cute? Something meaningful? All without sounding pretentious.

Then it hits me. It’s not possible for a 21-year-old to write a column and not sound pretentious. Who am I to give advice or even voice my opinion? I’m still a child, largely lost in the world, still trying to find a place, still changing my beliefs every day. My life to this point has been mostly learning experiences, fueled by a careful combination of mistakes. I cannot speak with authority on anything.

But as I start to get drunk, at least I start feeling more confident and more excited about what’s ahead of me. I start to feel like an adult, ready for anything, looking forward to graduation. But I still think it would sound clumsy to give anyone advice or to share my stupid pseudo-intellectual, semi-profound thoughts. Nevertheless…

I like to think that I found a good balance for myself at Penn. I did not worry too much about grades but I still did well by my standards. Sometimes, I found myself forgoing homework to play golf with friends or take field trips or go out drinking. But when it mattered, I got the work done. I’m sure plenty of people here can relate to that.

But that’s what college was about for me. Experiencing new things. Experimenting with new things. Meeting new people. Schoolwork was secondary to adventures, from studying abroad to going across town to get a 4 a.m. cheesesteak. That’s where I learned the most — life lessons, not classroom lessons. And I’m not trying to sound cool or superior to what this institution is about in anyway.

It may be different for you, which is fine.

There’s an old saying I’ve often used as an excuse when I felt like I was setting a bad example for myself here: “There’s a time and place for everything, and it’s called college.”

I’m not yet wise enough to give advice, but if I was, I would say one thing.

Just enjoy it. I did.

Spencer Small is a College senior and former senior staff writer from Lancaster, Pa. majoring in science, technology, and society. After graduation, he’ll be going to Madison, Wis. to work at Epic, a health care software company as a project manager.

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