Sunshine State of Mind: A moment’s beginning ends in a moment

Stephanie Hempel, Columnist

Tonight—the night before it is due, in good tradition—I have the privilege of writing my last column for “The Wayne Stater.” There are some things I rehearse: acceptance speeches, Bob Dylan lyrics; but not this. Not a grand goodbye. Instead, these are the best things that I’ve learned in my time here. I share them with you as my parting message, and hope that you can hang onto them and let them guide you as your time passes.

Join some stuff, even if you don’t want to. Once, I didn’t want to either, but now I can’t imagine I would have gotten anywhere without joining campus groups. Through PRIDE, TRiO, The Writing Club and the inner workings of the English Department, I found myself transformed from a lonely lady with enough time to nap and watch Netflix documentaries to a dynamically versatile lady with no nap time, and no Netflix account (besides not understanding references from any movies or TV shows, you barely miss it).

Through these organizations I’ve had the opportunity to uncover my sexuality, network with writers, strive as a leader, present at conferences, manage and host events, create and edit publications and meet the most beautiful souls in Nebraska.

Do things that freak you out. I read my most intimate memories and emotional perceptions on stage in front of audiences. I challenge my anxiety to be still. I research what I don’t understand, even if it seems daunting. I’ve dressed like a man and stripped on stage to raise money for cancer patients. I took an eight-hour flight to Greece and backpacked across Europe. I speak up in class even when it makes me uncomfortable.

I’ve worked jobs that challenge my ethics, morals and patience. I am drastically better as a human being because of all of this. When I arrived here I had a fear of public speaking and no self-confidence.

The first time I performed at a slam, I felt a burning within the roots of my core so intense that I knew that I had to keep performing. I challenged that yearning and passion into different outlets until it caught like wild fire to my entire life.

Use your resources. Go to the Counseling Center—they’ll save your life. Go to student health. Go to the rec center even if it intimidates you as much as it intimidates me (see number two.) Go to the library because it is beautiful and any building that is created with the purpose of holding knowledge must be a place where magic exists.

Go to the events on campus, and off campus—especially “The Judas Goat” open mic parties (shameless promotion) and be content with your life. This is your replica of the future. If you can balance social, emotional, physical and mental wellness now, think of how great you’ll be at that once you leave.

Make the best of it. If you know me then you’ve most likely heard the story of my favorite spot on campus, the circle in the middle of parking lot ten. The short version of this story: someone made a circle with their tire tracks in the middle of parking lot ten. It stands proud and fading between the middle of the square spaces and holds much metaphorical enlightenment and truth. I drive there and sit when my head is a mess.

Make the best of it. Find your circle of goodness, your space of symbolic profoundness within the nothingness around you. If you can’t find one, create one. Exist in these moments, douse yourself within them, pretend all the days are endless and sweet, like blackberry nectar on your lips. Trust me, in four years you’ll still feel like there wasn’t enough time. So, take all of it in now and hold on. These are the good parts.