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"The Quest" - motivational figure.

Woohoo! We've made it to Spring term! I'm so excited to see what journeys I will embark on in these next nine weeks. If fall and winter terms were any indication, I'm about to be tested once again. Nope, I'm not talking about being tested academically (although I will have exams), I'm talking about the intangible tests of maturity, intellectual growth, independence, and the like. I'm slowly beginning to realize Dartmouth has tested my character over the past few months through the decisions I find myself making. Now, of course these "tests" aren't "graded" by anyone else except myself. In fact, no one else even realizes the tests you are undergoing at any point in time except for yourself. You must be thinking, "Gav, what on Earth are you talking about? Tests? Wha--?" I know, let me dive into it.

I must admit when I first came to Dartmouth back in the summer of '21 for the FYSEP program, I prioritized things I shouldn't have. For instance, I would try to dress differently to fill my role in maintaining the, what I liked to call, the "Dartmouth Vibe." I would try to talk a bit differently (I have a bit of a southern accent), and behave in such a way to attract others to hang around me. While the last one doesn't sound bad, I lost who I was as a person, my values and morals, my upbringing, and my likes and dislikes. I was losing my identity. Now, I think I've reclaimed my identity over time. I think I now accentuate my southern accent and dress how I would back at home… like Gavin! I'm grateful for this. I was eventually able to pass this test that Dartmouth threw at me. I also realized the true "Dartmouth Vibe" IS being yourself, the genuine you!

That is just one of them. Winter term brought a new set of challenges that were distinct from anything I had ever gone through. Although these are some very personal matters, I want to share them with you in order to portray my growth at this institution. I won't go into full detail. To make a long story short, I found myself prioritizing people and their needs above my own. I would go out of my way to make their lives comfortable while sacrificing my own time, my wants and desires, and, at the end of the day, my dignity. Let me tell you something: No one is worth more than your mental health. Once I realized that the complex and mentally exhausting situations I had found myself in winter term were going to translate to spring term had I let them, I stopped this from happening. I separated myself from these individuals and prioritized my mental health. Of course, it's hard in the moment, but I know I will thank myself in the long run.

These are just two personal examples of the "tests" I've been through here at Dartmouth so far. Let me express something to you: You WILL go through hard times in college. You will struggle at times. You will go through situations that make you think, "What the heck, am I in a movie right now? Who's got the video camera? Show yourself!" It is a cinematic experience you guys. I think this is especially true here at Dartmouth. I mean, there is so much going on around you that it's easy to get caught up in the moment. You may start to feel like life is living you instead of the other way around. I like to use the saying, "You can't let the tail wag the dog," and that's a part of the test.

Let me be clear, I think Dartmouth is the absolute best place to go through these tests and grow as a person. There are wonderful people here. From your peers to the faculty & staff to the Dartmouth Dining Services workers and beyond, everyone is supportive. On top of that, the Upper Valley is gorgeous. You can take yourself back from it all merely by appreciating the land around you. You will go through growth here, and it's ANYthing but easy. You're supposed to. It's called becoming an adult! YIKES!

The figure in the main photo of this blog post is a scene named "The Quest." It was a gift from my family, and I look at it anytime I lack motivation. It reminds me of why I'm here. It gets me through all of the tests.

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