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Stratton Smith

  • The Seven Deadly Quotes

    by Stratton Smith | May 19, 2017

    Here I am sitting in front of this screen wondering what words I can concoct to help summarize what I’ve learned after four years at Manchester. To me, words are everything. I’m the kind of guy that doesn’t really know what he thinks until he can verbalize it. As I continue to ponder the words to give to you to help best guide you as a Spartan, I realize those words don’t exist. You’re on your own. Just like I was. Just like everyone is. You’ve got a team in your corner (some call it friends, some call it family, some call it God), but eventually you will realize that you are on your own in this life. You, and not one other person, is responsible for your happiness. When everything falls apart and everyone has turned their back on you, you have to learn how to function with pain.

    This whole post isn’t about the grim-ness of college or how lonely life is, but once you understand how unhappy you can become, and you will, it will help guide you to appreciate the little things throughout your college career, which, in the end, is what you’ll look back on and smile.

    SO FOUR YEARS – HOW’D YA DO IT? Dude… I seriously have no flipping clue. Dropping out was never an option in my head, but quitting on everything was. I can’t give you the words to get you through everything, but I want to introduce you to the words that helped me get though what seemed like “everything” at the time.

    Here are seven quotes that I believe encapsulated what I’ve learned at Manchester:

    1. “So it goes.” – Kurt Vonnegut

      These are three words known by every fan of Kurt Vonnegut, and is the theme of his infamous novel, Slaughterhouse-Five. These three words are reiterated 106 times throughout his novel. After every death in the novel, whether the death of a person or the death of a moment, Vonnegut uses this satire as, perhaps, a philosophy to life. “So it goes,” to me, means having an understanding that nothing in life is permanent. Everything we love will more than likely die one day, but luckily everything that brings us pain and suffering will also breathe its last breath, even when it feels like it’ll be alive forever. Understanding that happiness is temporary makes you cling that much more to it.

    2. “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.” – Shakespeare

      I’m an English major so of course I have to give a shoutout to my main man, Will. I grew up hearing my mother tell me, “the world’s a stage,” but I never really knew the context. In Shakespeare I learned a lot, but one of the biggest lessons that I learned is that every hero of the story has something evil or wretched within them (no matter how good they may be), and every villain seems to shed, at least, a glimpse of light and goodness. Never forget that. Don’t be afraid to look yourself in the mirror and call yourself the villain. More importantly, don’t forget that even if you are the villain, there’s that shed of light in you that someone else will see. I’ve always had a heart for the villain.

    3. “And when you're alone there's a very good chance you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.”

      I tear up EVERY. SINGLE. GOD FORSAKEN. TIME. after reading this line in Oh, The Places You’ll Go. As a kid, you have no idea what the words mean, but then when you grow up and you’re almost ashamed that you do. If you still don’t, we’re all completely envious of you. As someone who has had his fair share of trouble with his own mental health, Dr. Seuss reminds us that we’re not alone. We’re not the only ones who life has scared so cruelly that we didn’t want anything to do with it. And that… that just makes me feel a little less lonely.

    4. “We didn't talk about anything heavy or light. We were just there together. And that was enough.”  – Stephen Chbosky

      This is a line from my favorite book coming into Manchester, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I couldn’t think of a line from any other piece of literature that best describes what friendship means to me. Just having a friend that is there can make all the difference in the world. When I was hurting most, I never wanted to talk about it – most of the time I physically couldn’t. And I think that’s okay. There’s a time and a place, and my place is in my shower while blaring the Best Hits of Britney Spears CD. Some people want comfort when they’re hurting. Some people don’t want to talk at all. Me? I want everything to be back to normal again. A person who will treat and look at you exactly the same, whether agonizing or euphoric, is a friend to me. Thank you to all my friends for being my friends.

    5. “We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why.” – Stephen King, 11/22/63

      This line comes from one of my favorite books, 11/22/63. This story has layers on top of layers within it, but teaches “The Butterfly Effect” throughout the novel, considering this book is about a time traveler who visits the past on several occasions, but seems to have changed it after arriving back in the present. This taught me how big of an impact we have on others and that every action or sentence we utter has some kind of effect on everything around you. Never underestimate the power of a few words to a stranger, or the capability of a smile.

    6. “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” – Ernest Hemingway

      Trust is a huge, huge, huge, HUGE part of college. Trusting professors and guidance counselors is already instilled within most students at Manchester because they really do have an amazing collection of intelligent, generous, and passionate educators, along with the best counselors and staff you could hope for in any small community. Giving trust to people you’ve barely just met is another story. Often, women in college won’t commit to relationship with guys (and vice versa) because their trust was previously broken by a member of that same sex. My advice, take it or leave it, is to just go for it. It’s really hard to punish and withhold potential feelings from someone because a member of their species hurt them. And it’s absolutely easier said than done. Trusting information is another story (don’t believe everything you hear), but when it comes to trusting humans, you’ll more-than-likely experience heartbreak through broken trust, but gosh, I gotta say, I believe not trusting someone withholds you from growing with that person. Trust men. Trust women. But never, by any means…. Trust a cat. Trust nothing with eight extra lives.

      These will be my final words of advice to you as a writer, but I hope some of you have grown to consider me a friend through my writing. Manchester has the best Marketing Department in the world in my eyes, and they gave me this amazing opportunity to have my voice by heard. Though it may be covered by sarcastic comments or anti-feline rhetoric, I hope my voice has reflected a compassion for humanity… because, more than anything, that is what Manchester has instilled within me. Here are the final, final words of advice before I end with a quote from my favorite book (which would be a GREAT addition to your summer reading lists): Laugh louder than you know you’re supposed to and be okay with it. Don’t be afraid to cry during the sad moments, but especially don’t be afraid to cry during the happy ones. Appreciate everything Manchester will teach you and guide you through, and know that they truly, in all cases, have your best interest in mind. Lastly, live life in college without guilt. I believe if we die with guilt in our hearts, we will forever by trapped in a Hell. If we die knowing we did our best and had no regrets in the life we’ve lived, then you’ll die in paradise.

    7. “You have infinite time here, and there are infinite things to do, but you still don’t end up doing much of it. You do what you love most, over and over.” – BJ Novak, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories
    Stratton Smith ’17 is an English major, hailing from a small town just east of Indianapolis. Stratton is the captain of the tennis team, co-founder of Academic Probation, Manchester's improv troupe, and Vice President of the Theatre & Society club.