Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Fish Out of Water Finds Identity

Last Thursday night, my life came full circle. The ceremony had nothing of the pomp and circumstance of graduation; that’s still two and a half weeks away. But, for me, that simple moment was at least as significant.

That night, it was just me, a black Magic Marker and a friend to keep the office chair from swiveling under my feet. It only took a few seconds and then the writing was, literally, on the wall. While all around me friends celebrated the end of another semester of publication, I was struck dumb. My career at THE HOYA was over and I was leaving Georgetown forever.

Now, looking at my name, written as neatly as possible in three-inch tall script on the back wall of the editor in chief’s office, together with the epithet “Spring 2003,” I can’t help but smile. Not because of the accomplishment it represents, but because of how different it is from a similar ceremony I took part in four years ago. Back then, on the day before State Finals, I took a very thick children’s pencil and signed the wall in the deep end of the pool where my high school swim team practiced.

After all, I came to Georgetown to be a swimmer. That’s just not how things worked out.

There, in lane three, I added my name to an already existing box. At the top, in all capital letters it said “GOUNDREY” followed by two nearly identical entries: “Tom, Captain 1990” and “Tim, Captain 1992.” I squeezed in my own line, my captaincy removed by almost a decade, careful not to disturb the writing at the very bottom – H2OYA SAXA.

What seems like a lifetime later, I realize that I came to Georgetown to follow in the footsteps of my brothers. I wanted to be involved in the same activities, take the same professors, even have the same major. I had grown up hearing the stories of their Georgetown experiences and wanted an identical one for myself. Tom and Tim were and are my heroes, but breaking away from their precedents has brought me into my own for the first time.

Swimming freshman year taught me exactly how much I am capable of, but it also taught me a great deal about how I thought about my life. I saw myself as a swimmer and, more than that, as Tom and Tim’s little sister. And suddenly, after a lifetime of following in their footsteps, I wanted to be more.

Initially, I was terrified to stop swimming. I hated the idea of quitting anything and didn’t want to disappoint anyone. But, to my surprise, and against vehement predictions to the contrary, my family was thrilled. They understood that the pool in Yates wasn’t where I belonged. Just because Tom and Tim had swum, didn’t mean I had to – in fact it meant I shouldn’t. Not anymore.

I didn’t join THE HOYA on a whim or because it was something entirely different from what my brothers had done. I went because I knew in my heart it was where I belonged. I could feel it in my blood the first time I stayed up until 3 a.m., my back aching from hours hunched over a keyboard.

And so I threw myself into this newspaper heart and soul. From that day to this I have spent the greater part of my life chasing after one deadline or another. And slowly, but surely, I became a different, and I like to think better, person because of it.

At first the changes were subtle but omnipresent – like the streaks of newsprint ink on my hands and face. But soon my parents had THE HOYA’s number on speed dial on their cell phones, not my dorm room’s. I developed what has been called an intimate and somewhat fanatical relationship with grammar. In the hours around dawn I woke up, sweating, from nightmares of misspelled headlines.

THE HOYA gave me an education that could not have possibly come out of any classroom: lessons in confidence, responsibility, teamwork, leadership. From my nights and days in the office I made my closest friends, and from there came a relationship with someone who means the world to me.

This isn’t to say that my relationship with THE HOYA was always idyllic. There were plenty of conflicts, slights and stresses, painful situations that brought on more tears than I care to recall. But that’s the way intense relationships work; we are only truly hurt by what we love. With the benefit of hindsight, most of these problems seem petty and inconsequential, hardly worth noting when reflecting on the whole of my experience. But they are important for the lessons they taught me, and little by little, with each issue and each interaction, I grew up.

In the last three years, whereas I had once been the youngest Goundrey, I became a HOYA Staffer. And I will always be proud of that designation. Lately, though, I’ve realized that it doesn’t fit so well anymore. Somehow, when I wasn’t paying attention, I outgrew it. As I leave the Hilltop, I find again that I want to be something more.

But now, instead of seeking out a new mold to fill, I’m going to try something entirely different. I will no longer define myself in terms of the activities I participate in or who I am related to, because those are only one small part of the picture. I know now that it is a complicated portrait, showing everything I’ve ever been the daughter, the sister, the friend, the swimmer, the writer, the student in minute detail. But only by looking at it as a whole can you see all that I have the potential to become.

Mary Goundrey is a senior in the College and a former Editor in Chief, Senior Guide Editor, Contributing Editor, member of THE HOYA’s Editorial Board and Board of Directors, Sports Editor and Viewpoint columnist.

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