Would I Choose Yale A Second Time?

The most convenient time for doubt to creep in is at a precipice — and as I prepare to graduate, I’ve often wondered: Did I make the right decision, choosing Yale? “Right” is a fraught word, of course — right for who, or what, or when, or certain circumstances, or certain goals. My mother has often advised me: Make choices that give you more choices. So looking back on all the (other) choices I could’ve made — the potential multiverses of Logans — was coming to Yale the choice that ultimately, would’ve given me the most options? And even if not, were the experiences I’ve had here worth the foregoing of those other choices?

There have been some long and exhausting nights, both during high school and at Yale. But in either of these eras of my life, I’ve found that no path I could’ve chosen would’ve been hardship-free. And that part of entering and exiting different phases of your life means repeatedly answering the question: what do I want now? And how do I want to get (to) it?

Have you ever felt the way both Totodiles look in this picture? If you have, me too! And if not, I want the inner peace that you must have!

It’s tricky to definitively know. And “worth” is another one of those shifty words, especially because all I really know is what I’ve already lived: I have nothing else to compare Yale to besides Yale.

But let’s rewind a bit. To give you a scene: I came here as a first-year in the fall of 2018. Over the course of my first two years, I joined several extracurricular groups (WORD, Heritage Theater Ensemble, and the Restaurant Rescue Project, to include a few!), I started writing the very blogs you’re reading now, I pulled some all-nighters, I went to bed early and accepted that my unfinished work would be between me and Fate the next morning, and found circles and circles of friends. COVID arrived in the spring of my sophomore year, and what I thought would be an ugly month lengthened itself into an ugly summer, and then an ugly year, which I feared might stretch itself into an ugly decade.

And I think, though I don’t mean to wax (too much) poetic, through all that time — the time that unfolded as expected, the time reshaped and interrupted, that year where it felt like my first duty was just to stay alive — and after, I was taught so much by my peers. The poet Chen Chen once tweeted (yes, tweeted) “let me stay tender-hearted, despite, despite, despite.” And while those are certainly sage words, I think my friends and family-like friends at Yale have shown and led me to a variation of those words that I treasure even more: ”let me stay tender-hearted, because, because, because.

Because amidst all the difficulties and triumphs alike at Yale, major and minor, I have watched many of my friends become softer instead of more jaded with each new and approaching hardship. I have watched them metabolize fear and abrupt change not as numbing agents, but as an imperative to keep bending toward tenderness, to practice and extend a sense of dedicated warmth, to keep that certain bravery needed to maintain a demeanor of tenderness in such circumstances, to never calcify the best and most optimistic parts of themselves. I saw them and I strived to become like that too.

So I learned that here. I learned that from someone here. From several people here. Just as I learned from them how it feels to laugh until your whole torso hurts, how it feels to sprint away from a conversation in a residential college courtyard because a bumblebee flew too close to my ear, and hear the laughs of my friends mingling with the buzz, how it feels to enjoy dancing badly together and to not worry about being watched, to traipse through rain with the homies and arrive at a lecture hall or dorm or party utterly soaked.

Confidence isn’t always linear, too, and that’s okay! I’ve found myself reflecting and re-reflecting on past decisions during my time here, and you may arrive at different answers and conclusions over time.

You’re never the only one at a crossroads! I try to keep in mind that at any pivotal moment in my life, there are always others deciding alongside me — no one enters the future alone!

I don’t mean to paint a paradise for you. No college is a utopia. But, sincerely, one thing I am still attempting to wrap my head around as I prepare to graduate, and will keep contemplating long after, is how it is that people can be as good to you as many of friends here have been to me. How it is that I have felt such calm, such care here, even after all this aftermath.

For example: walking home from Union Station together late one evening after a trip to New York, weaving through quiet and empty streets, the air sweet, and clear, a friend of mine sang along to Frank Ocean’s “Nights.” Her voice spiraled up into the night, singing Everybody needs you! Yeah, everybody needs you! I smiled. She kept singing. Her voice kept repeating in the night. And we found our way home.

And if I could pick a memory that sums up my time at Yale, any choice would be inaccurate. It would fail to contain the full range of all I’ve learned here, and of everyone I’ve learned from. It might steer you, the reader, toward a cliche. But if you asked instead for my favorite fragment, I would give you this: this moment in which I was reminded that, long ago, when I stood before another precipice, deciding where to spend the next half-decade of my life, all I essentially wanted was a place where I was needed. And people who, in our time spent together, I would grow to need, too.

So through all this bellyache and wandering and winding, these sounds echoing across time: would I choose Yale again?

When I was growing up, one of my favorite Yu-Gi-Oh! cards was the Time Wizard — whose special ability allowed him to manipulate time. I question now though, if I’d ever really want to use that power.

I think I would.

Of course, I wouldn’t have done it the same way twice — there’s a book-length list of pieces of advice, big and small, that Older and Wizened Logan would say to High School Logan. Some of it might be apt. Some of it might be misguided. And even if I incorporated every change, avoided every supposedly foreseen mistake or missed opportunity, I’m sure that new ones with butterfly effects of their own would’ve followed. So that’s just the thing: in every permutation of, well, me — in each iteration — I’m sure that I would’ve found new joys and new regrets attached to every decision. The world where I majored in Computing and the Arts, or in Film and Media Studies, or in Linguistics, where I did an acting thesis instead of a playwriting thesis, where I focused on nonfiction instead of poetry, where I didn’t choose Yale — each would’ve had their own satisfactions and dissatisfactions. 

And I would hope that the one thing connecting all of them would be the same thing, and the only thing, that would’ve made any of those choices right: that I found communities to need and be needed by.

Any place can be your home! So as you read and decide, no matter where you pick: I hope you find people who need you. And people to need.