Unfiltered commentary: What I know

For her final column, Alex shares what she knows, including her hope for the future.


I know how to be bold. I know how to go after something, armed only with confidence in the fact that I gave it my all. I know rejection.

I know how to order the best meal even if it’s not on the menu. I know how to boil tea to the perfect temperature.

I know that everything will work out — eventually. I know that when I first got to school I cried myself to sleep, not because I was scared or sad but because I thought I’d be lonely. I know now that was crazy to think.

I know that when it thunders my dog searches for me even if my room sits empty. I know how to ride a bike — even though it took me some 20-odd years. I know how to divide checks at restaurants. I know how to people-watch as I sit atop the steps of Memorial as The Green floods with bodies rushing to class, and then goes still.

I know how to marvel in a moment. I know how to get lost in all the right places. I know immense laughter, fear and heartbreak.

I know how to let poetry consume me. I know how to cry from literature. I know I believe in humanity.

I know how to listen and give unsolicited advice. I know how many Advil to take for a headache.

I know that sometimes people will try to make you feel small. I know that you can’t be everybody’s favorite person, but that you can be someone’s favorite person.

I know the best example of unconditional love from the way my grandfather reaches for my grandmother’s hand at the kitchen table, finding his smile in her eyes, still, after 56 years of marriage.

I know hurt — even though I know I never show it.

I know the amount of times I’ve forgotten to say thank you. I know the ways I’ve set out to protect my younger brothers. I know the people I’ll always be able to count on.

I know the names of insects. I know the joy of fireflies revealing themselves on cool summer nights. I know I can’t save all the spiders from unnecessary squishing.

I know the color of the sunset on the days I let people in, showing them my favorite hideout by the water.

These things I know.

I don’t know how to skateboard even though I’ve always wanted to learn. I don’t know how to unhear mean words about people I love.

I don’t know how to fix our planet. I don’t know how to fix things for people when the words “it’s going to be ok” are a lie.

I don’t know how to love less.

I don’t know if bad people are really all that bad. I don’t know if everything is going to fall apart before I’ll have to work to put it back together again. I don’t know how to take away pain.

I don’t know how to fly.

I don’t know how to be less curious or less cautious or less reckless. I don’t know how to not pretend to be a dolphin each time I’m in the ocean. I don’t know how to not wear Crocs in public.

I don’t know if the stars I’m staring at in the sky have already exploded. I don’t know where the aliens are and I don’t know if they know where I am either.

I don’t know how this generation — our generation — is going to be the one to right all the wrongs, all the hurt, all the hate, all the hunger.

I know we’re capable, though.

I know that this generation — our generation — was born with an open mind. That we have seen what wrong and hurt and hate and hunger have done to this Earth, have done to humanity. I know that we have seen love in all forms. I know we have seen people claim their bodies, unidentify with gender, untie themselves from stereotypes — that we have seen love exploited, cherished and burnt. I know that we have seen violence for no reason other than the fact that the people before us knew of love, courage and acceptance in ways we know differently.

I know we’re the generation with the hearts, with the creative minds, with the reserve for judgment. I know it’s up to us to fix all the wrong, the hurt, the hate, the hunger.

But here we stand: faced with the world, knowing and not knowing too many things.

I know us to be bold, to be confident. I know us to believe in each other — in humanity. I know us our generation to praise each other in our moments of glory and lean on for inspiration in our moments of weakness. I know our generation as the one that loves too much, is curious too often and is reckless with reasons of being young and alive. I know our generation as one that isn’t afraid of believing in who they are, as one that is honest and compassionate and strong willed — one that sees something and goes after it — one that embraces change and fear and is passionate in all things.

I know too much about us not to believe in us.

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