Homecoming Opinions: Life After Williams

Not only is Williams a very small school, it is also very isolated. I know several students who, while they live physically very close to Williamstown, still have a long journey back and forth to school due to the winding mountain roads. One student pointed out that at other schools, students are separated as “in-staters” and “out-of-staters.” At Williams, being from in-state does not count for much in your status as a local unless you’re from the town of Williamstown itself.

The isolated nature of our college means that once you enter Williamstown, leaving it is no small feat, which contributes to the strength of the purple bubble. It’s hard to pop, and it’s very easy to stay. Life on campus tends to consume students. A sidewalk closed due to construction is a big inconvenience, we’re annoyed at the incorrect EphMeals app, a party of 30 people in the basement of a beer-soaked pseudo-frat-house is the social event of the weekend.

Inside the bubble, all of these silly things seem significant, but all it takes is a 10 minute drive to gain some perspective. I notice this every other day when I drive to the elementary school, and a huge weight leaves my shoulders. That little bit of distance helps me realize that the things that seem important won’t matter at all to me in a very short amount of time.

With homecoming happening this weekend, I saw the perfect opportunity to collect some thoughts from Williams alums. I was able to speak with two alums in particular: Sam Wilson and Caroline Wyatt, both class of 2018.

Sam and Caroline both live in New York City, working in finance and law respectively. In the course of our conversation, I was able to glean two important pieces of advice.

Sam’s thoughts can be summed up very simply: “adapt to your circumstances.”

In his view, while he may be operating differently in the city than he did at Williams, the changes can’t be applied to life at Williams because the contexts are so different. Instead, it’s important to accept that you can’t control the situation around you, you can only control how you react to it.

Caroline’s advice can, similarly, be summed up in a single, slightly longer, quote. She says, “I would say that it’s best to expect the unexpected and explore things that interest you. Be grateful for the moments that are great, and be receptive to the moments that are not so great, and learn to live with them.”

Talking with her helped me to realize that no matter how much we, as Williams students, may think we have a plan for the future or know what we want to do, we really have no idea what the future holds for us. While it is responsible to plan your classes and internships strategically, it is equally important to pursue what genuinely makes you happy in the moment. A lot of us seem to have the idea that Williams is a phase of pre-life that prepares us for our “real” lives, after we graduate. But, the reality is, we are already living our real lives. Right now. So, don’t sacrifice your happiness in the moment for some possible future happiness. Be happy, live well, and what will be, will be.