How dissecting a cat spurred me to question everything I didn’t know

I know you have to buy your boyfriend jeans three sizes too big to get the Kate Moss “can you see the waistband of my Calvin Klein panties as my jeans are slung low on my hips?” look. I know that Zara is the best place to buy designer knock-offs while retaining some sense of dignity by not spending your rent money. I know that strappy black-heeled sandals can make the most unflattering of cankles disappear. I know when you tie a plain T-shirt to your waist, you can strategically hide any rolls deemed unsightly in a curve-hugging skirt. I know fashion, and it doesn’t matter.

What matters is what I don’t know. I came to The University of Alabama four years ago knowing I had things figured out. I was going to be a nurse, and I would probably move back to Huntsville, to be close to my family. I did not look outside my inner circle of friends and did not see myself getting noticed or making a difference in a sea of 35,000 others. I knew I wanted to skate by quickly, quietly – no small talk – to get my diploma and go home.

I did not know dissecting a house cat in anatomy would result in the end of my nursing career and become the first time I questioned who I wanted to be. Unnoticed, unquestioning and quiet or inquisitive, open to the unknown and loud. It turns out journalists have to be loud.

I did not know how much I would come to love this University. The people, the spirit, the traditions. I was smitten. But as most defining relationships go, the more intimate you become, the more problems previously lying dormant come to light.

The spirit of our school is something to be admired. We are proud, and, for the most part, we stand together – be it after the April 27, 2011, tornado, hands held tight rallying around our community, or in Bryant-Denny, supporting a man, whose smile remains 6-feet-under, and his 11 mighty henchmen. We support what we know.

But the University does not know it all. We do not know how to question the traditions we have come to nestle quietly within. We do not know how to be loud unless we’re screaming an opposing team into submission on a third down or cat-calling runners in bra tops.

I think it’s important to analyze what I don’t know, what I’m unsure of and what I don’t believe. It’s usually those conversations that bring the most insight to my life and, subsequently, the most self-discovery. I know I want to be loud. And not the engine-revving, attention-seeking loud. The important, answer-seeking loud. I know what I believe and who I want to be because of my experience of not knowing at The University of Alabama.

I hope that every student here will leave knowing what they believe because they questioned what they didn’t. And when you do know, when you start questioning and stop ignoring, rally behind the quiet and stand up to the loud. Tradition comes from a long line of not asking questions. And if tradition is all you know, then you really don’t know anything.

If I’ve learned anything in my four years at The University of Alabama, it is that sometimes all you need is one voice to crumble 50 years of an overlooked tradition.

Someone had to break the rules to make a change. Thanks for being loud, Melanie Gotz. I am forever inspired because of what you didn’t know.

Abbey Crain was the culture editor of The Crimson White. 

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