In line at Nacho Hour, a friend and I lamented our lack of post-grad plans. “You’ve got to have a pretty thick skin,” she notes, in reference to the hundreds of job applications which come back as automated rejections or simply disappear into the ether. I couldn’t help but agree. It takes a good deal of resilience to wake up in the morning to an inbox full of rejection, roll out of bed, brush your teeth, dust off your ego and head to class knowing full well that the grades no longer matter and you’ll be up until 2 a.m. preparing the next batch of cover letters, hoping each edit of your resume””a new buzzword, another reformatting””will at least win you a phone interview. It was in this state of mind””this state of life””that I finally fully embraced the college lifestyle…and pulled an all-nighter to binge-watch Netflix. Fortunately for me, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” lasts a mere six and a half hours, so I nabbed a little shuteye before sunrise.
The show has been lauded as a feminist comedy, a trait trumpeted in its theme song, “Females are strong as hell.” It has also been criticized for flat jokes at the expense of ethnic side characters. I won’t add to these conversations, nor will I argue that there are any inherent benefits to midnight Netflix binges while eating Nutella by the spoonful. I will suggest that senior year especially calls for many more moments such as these. What I want to focus on is how inspirational I found Kimmy Schmidt at this moment of uncertainty, transition and remembrance. Kimmy steps out into the wide, wacky world of the Big Apple with a mere eighth-grade education buoyed by nothing more than her unrelenting optimism and perseverance, a contagious smile, a handful of quirky maxims and her indomitable resilience. With these she begins to create a new life for herself. To my fellow graduates, perhaps we can, too.
To those of you who still have years left here, I hope that your time at Trinity is different from mine. I am not one to promote a life of nothing but happiness and ease, yet I hope your time at Trinity is…easier. I hope you never experience depression. I hope you never fear to lose your dearest friend. I hope you never experience sexual harassment or assault. Hope feels too weak a word for how much I wish each of these things for you.
However, above all, I hope that you learn resilience. I hope that you learn to look in the mirror each morning and tell yourself you have worth, you have value and you matter. I hope that you learn to speak about personal tragedy and struggle with dear friends, family or counselors. I hope that you learn when to speak out, both for yourself and for others. I hope that you learn when not to speak, but when to listen or to simply hug instead. Most importantly, I hope you learn that you are stronger when you come together as a community to support one another in times of need and to celebrate in times of joy.
Kimmy Schmidt advises that you can stand just about anything for 10 seconds. Then you just start on a new 10 seconds. Whether it’s running a half- marathon with Dean Tuttle, trying to stay awake to finish that paper before the deadline, or doing mundane, menial tasks like making copies at your unpaid internship, know that you can stand it. Whether it’s moving back home with your parents after graduation, working as a college-educated barista, waking up each morning to let those rejections roll off your thick skin until you find the job that’s really right for you, know that you can stand it. Echoing the archaic “this too shall pass” and “just keep swimming” from “Finding Nemo” Kimmy Schmidt’s “just take it ten seconds at a time” reminds us that we, too, are strong as hell and we can get by with a little help from the oddballs we call friends.
Ben Whitehead is graduating with a bachelor of arts in economics and a minor in mathematics.