May 082011
 
Authors: Colleen McSweeney

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m not Oprah Winfrey.

I’ve never hosted an Emmy-winning talk show, and with my career aspirations, I’ll definitely never be a billionaire with more than five multi-million-dollar estates.

Unlike Oprah, people barely ever read my book suggestions, and Tom Cruise has definitely never jumped up and down like a lunatic on my couch.

Needless to say, there are definite Oprah/Colleen disparities.

But after many years of sitting idly by as my Mom watched her show, I think — through unintentional Oprah-osmosis — she inspired my younger self. I could say I’m ashamed to admit it, but why? Besides being responsible for Dr. Phil’s fame, what harm has she done?

So a few weeks ago, while flipping through an old copy of “O: The Oprah Magazine,” I stumbled upon a quote that stemmed a newly rekindled love for the talk show host whose weight fluctuates more than Wall Street. (No offense, Oprah. I completely understand. I like bacon too.)

Underneath a glamorous photo of her were the words, “Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.”
She’s no Mark Twain, and my judgment may have been impaired from lack of sleep, but her words affected me.

And throughout these past couple weeks of classes, they’ve continued to resonate in my scholastics-filled mind. More than ever, I’m beginning to realize the importance of speaking up before it’s too late.

While “too late” may sound ominous, it’s a relevant notion during a time of year when friends are graduating, moving on and in many cases, leaving our everyday lives completely. And I begin to wonder, have I taken Oprah’s advice? Or do I often wait until it really is too late?

Oprah would be ashamed, but the answer to the latter is definitely “yes.” Often, I don’t reach out before the opportunity for connections have passed.

My friend Emilie recently said, “It’s weird. It seems like I just start getting to know people in my classes during the last couple weeks of school. People loosen up more or something, and it makes me wish we had started talking earlier in the year.”
And I doubt she’s the only one who’s noticed the strange influx of socialization during the last month or so of classes.

Every year it’s the same: Just as the dry heat of summer begins to fill the classrooms and final projects and tests loom, people begin to open up. Instead of just asking to borrow a pen, kids all around the room start laughing, sharing their summer plans and most significantly, connecting.

Maybe our stress-induced caffeine addictions give us all something to bond over, or perhaps the prospect of an approaching carefree summer eases up some social tension, finally allowing us to notice the people sitting around us.
Whatever the exact reasons, one thing is clear: Stress brings college students together.

Some guys begin using “Let’s study for the final together” as an excuse to ask for some hot girl’s number (Ahem, former Editorials Editor Chadwick Bowman), and those two stoners asleep in the back of lecture finally wake up and realize, “Dude! We went to high school together right?”
It’s a beautiful thing.

And during college, a time when the only thing we can count on to stick around is Tony Frank’s voluptuous beard, we need to start appreciating the people we have around while we have them.

Of course, Oprah’s quote doesn’t only apply to the social dynamics in college, but it’s also a poignant reminder to start everything – especially relationships – when we first get the chance.

And it’s not as if we go into each semester’s classes with the intention of procrastinating the “getting-to-know you’s.”

Our hopes always start out high: We’ll for sure become best friends with everyone, we blissfully tell ourselves, and without a doubt, that 15-page final paper will be done within the first month. Ha…ha.

But as it seems, it often takes the immanent end to force us to begin.
So as we go into next semester, let’s do as Ms. Winfrey would – become besties with Tony Frank before it’s too late.

Editorials Editor Colleen McSweeney is a junior journalism major. Fellow Oprah enthusiasts can send letters and feedback to letters@collegian.com.

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