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  • Emma Radel

Mission 100 Days: Emma’s Declassified Life Survival Guide

By: Emma Radel, Copy Editor

I was born the fifth of eight children, and — in the 21 years that have elapsed since — I have chosen to be a friend, poet, drama queen, em-dash enthusiast, bullet journaler, copy editor, plant mom, expert napper, petsitter, girlfriend, dancer, researcher, etc. I have enjoyed my four years at Canisius as a member of four soon-to-be five honor societies, a president of two clubs and an e-board member of several more, a triple major and quintuple minor (I eventually settled on two majors and two minors), a Spanish tutor, a Writing Center tutor, a CEEP research assistant, a nanny and babysitter, an HEOP summer tutor, a notetaker, an FYE peer mentor (best job I’ve ever had), an orientation leader, a six-week Kino Border Initiative volunteer and the holder of a perfect 4.0, in addition to other responsibilities. Forgive me for the flex, but I have worked SO damn hard for all of this, and sometimes I need the reminder, too.

Some of my best friends in the world are an 84-year-old retired industrial psychologist, a dog named after a kitchen utensil and my mom. I love sunrises and talking about grammar, my plant collection, copy editing, poetry and whether someone would rather be a ninja, a pirate or a cowboy. I’m known for having a bajillion jobs outside of Canisius and being too loud.

If you’ve spent any time with me, you probably know that I suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and ADHD and that I’ve fought for control my whole life: it’s a battle I’m constantly losing. It sucks. My brain can be a really difficult place to live in sometimes. You may also know that in fall 2022, I withdrew from my classes and enrolled in Narins Eating Disorder Center, but only with the immeasurable love, vulnerability and support of Dr. Graham Stowe, Professor Janet McNally, Dr. Jenn Lodi-Smith and Eileen Niland from the Counseling Center. I spent six weeks there getting better and writing bad poetry about crying over yogurt. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, and also the most important, but I’m told that those things (very annoyingly) tend to be that way.

I cannot begin to tell you how hard I have worked every day to show up as the best version of myself. I can tell you, though, that overextending myself and my schedule, waiting so long to ask for help and saying “Yes, I can” when I should have been brave enough to say “No, I can’t” really almost killed me. I am here because I was loved enough that, when I got sick, my friends and my professors and my mentors saw through my “I’m fine” B.S. They loved me enough to tell me that they were scared, and I loved them enough to tell them that I was scared, too.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is not look — not look at the old texts, or the Nutrition Facts panel, or the spelling mistake printed in gigantic font you didn’t catch, or the photos from last year or the number on the scale. I have too little time on this planet as is, and I refuse to spend it trying to hate myself into a version I love. Your relationship with yourself is precious, so find hobbies you love and be careful which avenues you use to manage your stress.

Canisius has been the school of my dreams since I first stepped on campus. Here, I was challenged every day to reimagine what I thought were my responsibilities to the people around me. I was pushed to be kinder, to envelop a radical kindness that excludes no one, even if that person attends a school with a purple eagle mascot. (I mean, seriously? Eagles are NOT purple.) I was encouraged to do more and be more, to see each day as an opportunity to place the stones of my future and of my community’s future and to further devote myself to building a better world. All this while being surrounded by irreplaceable, truly once-in-a-lifetime staff and faculty, whom I could go on about for pages. 

I’d like to extend my utmost gratitude and humility especially to Mick Cochrane, Jennifer Herrmann, Richard Reitsma, Erik Schneider, Susan Putnam, Jen Desiderio, Mark Hodin, Jonathan D. Lawrence and so, so many more. That I have so long of a list of thank-yous is a privilege I promise to take with me for the rest of my life.

Okay, after four years of very expensive education, here’s what I know: progress is rarely linear; the world is only sometimes kind, but you can choose every day to be kinder than you think people deserve; no one is thinking about you as much as you think they are; your time and energy (mental, physical, emotional) are expensive, and you should treat them that way; the only real competition that exists is between you and the person you were yesterday; “done poorly” is way better than “not done,” and sometimes giving it your best is all you can do; and you will rarely ever know that you are in one of the best moments of your life until after they’re over, but maybe keep your eyes peeled, just in case. Also, college should not be the best four years of your life — I sure hope it hasn’t been for me, because I have big plans. Find something to be grateful about always, speak kindly to yourself and remember that sometimes your problems can wait for tomorrow, and you should just go to sleep.

It has been the greatest honor of my life so far to spend these four years working for a better world alongside all of you. For now, you can find me working in the Institute for Autism Research on this very campus while I prepare for my next step, nursing school. Thank you, forever and always: go Griffs!

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