I recently watched Charlie Day’s commencement address at Merrimack College. I don’t know how I stumbled upon it, probably in a video clip on Facebook, and I don’t even really care about Charlie Day (I’ve never watched It’s Always Sunny in Philedelphia), but I can’t stop thinking about his speech these days.
I had always gotten really good grades throughout high school without ever having to worry that I could possibly do worse. I pushed myself and worked hard and I reaped the rewards.
When I went home this Thanksgiving break, I was asked the same thing by basically everyone, “Is Hopkins hard?” I know that people just want a quick “yes” or “no” answer, but I’ve come to realize that it’s not that simple.
The honest truth is that Hopkins is challenging. Freshmen year is hard. The change from high school to college is definitely drastic and unlike what I had imagined. There are times when I feel like I am falling behind even when I am going to class every day and doing my homework consistently. There are moments when I want to go to a Learning Den tutoring session but can’t because there is a club meeting to go to. There are weekends when I want to go down to the Harbor with my friends, but need to turn the offer down in order to perfect an essay for my philosophy class.
But it is great. The challenge of being here is amazing and wonderful and I wouldn’t pass it up for anything else. I have never learned so much in a single semester in my entire life. I have never felt more accomplished and on the right path.
Every moment here is certainly not all fun and games, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t great.
This brings me to what Charlie Day said in his commencement speech, “You cannot succeed without this risk of failure, you cannot have a voice without the risk of criticism and you cannot love without the risk of loss. You must go out and take these risk. … Do what’s uncomfortable, and scary, and hard, but pays off in the long run. Be willing to fail. Let yourself fail. Fail in the way and the place where you would want to fail. Fail, pick yourself up and fail again. Because without this struggle, what is your success anyway?”
At Hopkins, I am constantly amazed by the amount of passion and drive the student body has as a whole. Classes are not always easy, but they push students to better themselves and accomplish things they never knew they could before.
No, Hopkins is not “hard.” It is not hard to be at a school where people are so motivated and inspiring. It is not hard to be at a school that is collaborative and supportive. Hopkins can be challenging, but it also feels so worth it.