Dear Dr. Wes & I: I am about to leave for college. Each day I choose an adverb from the following list (extremely, supremely, superlatively, astronomically, hazardously, insanely). Whenever people ask if I’m excited, I exclaim, “Yes, I am [insert adverb] excited!”
That is [insert adverb] true, yet every page I tear off my calendar becomes a crumpled ball of anxiety rolling toward my first day there. I can’t seem to narrow my first semester to less than eight classes, I’m worried my tea maker will set fire to my dorm room and I still don’t know how much detergent to put in a washing machine.
Am I going to survive college?
— Katie Guyot
Katie: Having now checked “Write a letter to Double Take” off my bucket list, I can happily pass the baton to Kendra Schwartz — whose columns I will glue to my dorm room until my wallpaper is made of such good advice that campus housing will decide not to fine me for gluing newsprint to the walls.
Answering my own question, I’d say the biggest threat to my survival is not the tea maker or the class list, but the anxiety. I’ll restrain myself from using FDR’s fear itself cliché, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t running through my head.
Every change in life is a bridge between present and future, so while I rally my sense of adventure for experiences yet to be imagined, I’ll keep in mind the memories I have of home — including writing for Double Take, which has been a truly formative part of my 18th year. With all these familiar things on my mind, I can take comfort amid the new ones.
I’d like to thank the Lawrence Journal-World and readers for giving Double Take a platform as well as KCUR and listeners for featuring our topics on the air.
Additional gratitude goes to my family, my cats, my friends, and all others who have nominally or anonymously appeared in my columns, especially you, FDR. Thanks to all the past Double Take co-authors who unknowingly inspired and guided me, and a very special thank you to Wes, for more than words can say. I adore this column, and I look forward to seeing it change as I experience changes of my own.
Wes: As Katie notes, in the last year Double Take has expanded to include media appearances on TV and radio. Kendra kicks off her year this Friday on Fox4 and next Aug. 13 on KCUR’s Up to Date with Steve Kraske (FM 89.3). In the fall we’ll both be on KPR Presents on KANU (FM 91.5).
Prior to this I only met the co-authors once or twice. In true 21st-century style, the rest of our relationship played out online. Now I get to know the co-authors more personally. We email back and forth more than ever, but we also meet for show prep and sit down together in front of mic and camera. I even get to work with the other Double Take applicants now, calling on them for media appearances, topical advice and guest columns.
So, as I say goodbye this week to Katie Guyot, I’m doing so not just as a co-author but as a friend and colleague. We’re a team. I learn from her. I enjoy her sense of humor. I cheered when someone texted me that she was nominated for prom court (Katie was too modest to tell me herself). I cheered even harder when I texted her congratulations and Katie texted back that she’d won. The people in the checkout line at Dillon’s seemed confused by all this cheering.
Katie’s readers and I share this moment of goodbye with friends and family all over America as they prepare themselves to send brand-new adults into a new world they’ll find full of optimism and anxiety; hope and uncertainty; opportunity and cost.
In managing our inevitable grief, we might find our own comfort in the words of Garrison Keillor: “Nothing you do for children is ever wasted. They seem not to notice us, hovering, averting our eyes, and they seldom offer thanks, but what we do for them is never wasted.”
We needn’t wish Katie good luck when she arrives in her new world, Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. She will make her own, though any chance I have to write letters in support of her career, I will gladly take. So in closing our year together, I shall answer her anxiety about the likelihood of survival in college with the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, “Become who you are.”
I have no doubt you will be amazing.