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Savor chance for self-discovery

WITHOUT doubt, the best restroom on Central Grounds is on the south side of Minor Hall. Single stall. Very clean. Always stocked with paper products. Remember this always.

I found that out on my own, which is illustrative of how I feel about giving out advice. Do you really want to know what the best thing about college is? I am not going to tell you. That would ruin it. I would not begin to insult you by telling you what the best part of college will be for you because that is for you to find out. I was a little scared when I came here, I think that you should be too. It's a rite of passage.

Don't be afraid to be afraid. You are not ready. You may think that you are, but you are assuredly wrong. I don't care if you have raised yourself. I don't care if you have been in boarding school since you were two years old. Good for you that you have four siblings who have come through here already. I don't care if you know the name of every building, street and professor in Charlottesville. Bravo if you know exactly which of the Big Five you want to work for after receiving your Commerce School degree. It doesn't matter. You are not ready. They don't make a brochure or a pamphlet for the stuff that I'm talking about.

That restroom advice was a metaphor of sorts. College is full of those. It's full of things that don't mean anything to you right when they happen, but a couple of minutes, weeks or months later, you will think to yourself and wonder what the hell happened. You may not come up with an answer right then, but you will know that it meant something. And sometimes, that's good enough.

You may ask yourself, "Are all fourth years this uplifting with their advice?" I'm not sure. All I know is that there will be some things between now and your graduation that you are not ready for. You can't possibly be. Of course, no one is ready. That's the reassuring part. We all bond in our lack of preparation. Believe me, nobody knows what they want to do with the rest of their lives, even the pre-med kids.

Discover. If I had to put the whole damn thing into one word, it would be that. Discover what you love. Discover whom you love. Discover yourself. You may not be finished by the time graduation rolls around, but you will be a heck of a lot farther along than you are right now. And remember that it's all right, nobody is going to hold your lack of discovery against you when you get here. It's expected that you haven't figured much out yet.

I'm lucky enough to be on the graduation committee for the Class of 2000. I think that it is unlikely that the committee will support one of my proposals. I'll try to set the scene for you.

The boys and I will sit in rocking chairs on the south side of the Rotunda after everyone has marched down the Lawn. We'll smoke cigars and have one last drink. I'll turn to my advisor and thank him, really meaning it this time. I'll walk over to the only girl who ever figured me out and give her a kiss. We'll get on our horses. As we trot down the Lawn, Dave Matthews will take the microphone from the orchestra leader and the rest of the band will roll into a really great extended version of "Ants Marching." We'll ride proudly and happily because it will be time. We'll get further and further from the Rotunda and the sun will begin to set ahead of us behind Cabell Hall until the thousands of onlookers see nothing but the light. Great ending, just like an old western. Too many logistical problems with getting the sun to set directly behind Cabell Hall, but otherwise, I think that it's a great idea.

I think that college is the end of the beginning. You will be ready by the time you wake up on that morning in May of 2003. You won't remember a word of what you have just read, and I won't hold that against you. You shouldn't remember because if I'm right, then you'll have come to a host of realizations on your own and you won't need to remember my babbling.

Good luck. You don't really need any luck, but it's always a nice thing to say. All you need is everything and everybody that has made you who you are right now. To this you will add a little direction and some really great people whom you haven't even met yet. Smile, everything will be just fine in the end, and it probably won't even take that long.

Oh, and remember that restroom in Minor. You will thank me for that.

(Brooke Brower is a rising fourth-year College student.)

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