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College Comment
Finding My Guitar

Before we arrive, Yale courts us as a suitor courts a lover. “You are remarkable,” we are told. “What you can give us no one else can offer. What we can give you in return will change you in the most profound and wondrous way.”

And we all fall for it.

We arrive brimming with plans and anticipation, ready to experience things we never even knew existed. We’re trying so hard, from day one, to find ourselves. And it is in this very quest that lies the ultimate deception.


“It is only him, his music, and the mauve New Haven sky.”

Freshmen are the lifeblood of Yale. And it will tell us everything we want to hear so that we rush, sign up, and audition for everything. But Yale is, in a word, “hardcore.” Unless you’re brilliant, the doors of opportunity are, quite simply, closed.

Yet no one tells you this. To paraphrase Anthony Hecht, high on the house are nailed banners that read “no experience necessary”—but the signs are deceptive. “Never danced before? No matter! Let’s start off with a few ballet sequences.” Or: “Never sung? No problem! Just sight-read this for me?” What a sham.

So it’s 2 o'clock Friday morning. I’ve barricaded myself in my room writing a Directed Studies paper on Plato’s theory of forms. I’m tired, so tired. And I’m in a dark and depressed place. The Freshman Chorus didn’t want me. Neither did Mock Trial. I’m trying in vain to convince myself that I was overqualified.

Then suddenly I hear a guitar.

My room has the most spectacular view of Harkness Tower, and underneath my window is a patch of grass with a semicircular stone seat. There’s no one around save for a few late-night revelers. The moon is full, the breeze is cool and soft, the Tower is illuminated. And on that seat is a guy playing a Latin tune. He’s bathed in the most beautiful golden blue light, and his melody is enchanting.

What strikes me most is how visibly, how entirely he is his melody. His head bent over, shoulders heaving, feet moving with the guitar leaning this way and that. It is only him, his music, and the mauve New Haven sky.

I realized then why Yale is what it is, why I left everything behind in Australia to come here: because people love whatever they do with every fiber in their bodies.

They get involved because something fills their soul to the brim. It makes them whole in an inexplicable way. And finding yourself means doing what you love regardless of whether you’re accepted or tapped. If you love to sing, go out on Old Campus and sing your heart out. If you love to dance, waltz in empty gymnasiums. Passion is what makes Yale Yale.

Surrounded by over 11,000 phenomenal people, it’s inevitable that at times I feel small, stupid, and lonely. But in time I will find my own “guitar.”

So if you’re reading this, guitar player, thank you. You opened my eyes.  the end


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