SENIOR COLUMN: On being wrongBy Grace Dinger | 04/28/2017 2:06pm
Somehow in the past four years, I’ve gone from being the girl constantly asking questions to now being in a position to provide some answers. And if I could give only one piece of advice, it would be to not be afraid to be wrong. In 2013, I was fresh out of a competitive, east-coast prep school, and believed I was “settling” with Alabama. I loved the campus and I was excited to try something new, but I always thought I could do “better.” I spent every single day of the next four years finding new and exciting ways to prove myself wrong. No other school in the country would have been better than Alabama has been and will continue to be for me. I laugh at my initial pessimism as my phone is now filled with texts from high school girls our Admissions office has entrusted me to recruit to Alabama. There’s something special about this place. Something that sticks.
“I guess football could be fun” turned into a ticket to the National Championship being the only thing on my Christmas list. “I will never join a sorority” turned into a network of strong women who will be my friends for life. “I just need a job” turned into my coworkers at University Recreation becoming the most wonderful and loving group of people I have ever known. And “Why is it so hot outside?!” turned into my upcoming move to Florida. As someone who usually hates being wrong, I have loved being wrong about Alabama time and time again, and falling in love, out of love and back in love with all of its imperfections. And there are plenty. I’ve witnessed injustice here, but I’ve witnessed caring and selfless individuals combat it and demand us to be better. This has helped shape my worldview and my career goals in more ways than I can count or have space to explain.
These past four years in Tuscaloosa have challenged me and changed me and formed me into the woman I’m excited to share with the rest of the world. I’ve tried to make this gigantic campus feel smaller by finding a place where I truly belonged, and I’ve failed at that just as many times as I’ve succeeded. The past four years were not always as pretty as the Instagrams I posted. I grew through disappointment and rejection and heartbreak just as often as I did through success and friendship and love. I was completely wrong about countless people and classes and organizations, and have spent a lot of time being pleasantly surprised and shockingly let down. I’ve laughed and cried and cursed and kissed all over this campus, and I wouldn’t trade a single moment of it for the world.
I remember bawling my eyes out when I graduated eighth grade and thinking the world was ending when I graduated high school. I have a feeling there will be a few less tears this time around. Not because I’m not sad, but because this time, I’m ready. I’m ready to move on to my next step that Alabama has prepared me so well for. But I’m also ready to have a place that will always welcome me home, and an alma mater that will always be so easy to root for.
Maybe you’re here because you got a full ride and wanted to escape the snow. Maybe you’re here because you grew up with the Tide and never knew anything different. Maybe you’re here because of a specific program or team or an “aha” moment you had the day you visited. Maybe you have no idea why you’re here. But I promise you that even if it takes until the very week of your graduation, you will figure out why you’re here. And you will be thankful and humbled that you were ever here at all.
So no matter if you’re finishing up your first year or trying to decide how many victory laps is too many, I invite you to be wrong. There are so many things on this campus that I never would have experienced if I had gotten scared the first time I was wrong and just stopped trying. If I’d been too scared to go on a trip to Ecuador that I knew almost nothing about, I wouldn’t have met some of my best friends, been stretched to my limit in my Spanish-speaking abilities, or had the near-death experience that inspired my law school personal statement. So here’s to shedding my anxieties and misgivings. Here’s to being wrong, and to all of the adventures it brought me and will surely bring you.
Dedicated to Megan Rondini, 1994-2016.
Grace Dinger is a senior majoring in international studies and Spanish.