Kamara Swaby '17, Leverett House, speaks at Morning Prayers during Senior Talks
I will be reading from the Bible.
Book of Philippians Chapter 3 Verses 13-14
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
On the idea of forgetting things that were behind us and looking towards our future, I would like to talk about the topic of regret.
First off, I want to say this now. I do not regret the four years I spent here at Harvard University. However, I would be lying if I said that I didn't experience regrets here. And after all, I don’t want to lie in a church.
So this talk will be me recalling some of the mistakes and regrets at Harvard. Not all of them because we don’t have the time. But instead of forgetting my regrets, I believe we all should reflect on each and every regret we have not only for ourselves but for others as well.
For example looking back and being honest, there were some classes I should not have taken. The person I am now, knows that I would have been happier in some different courses because of my interests. But I would have never found these interests if I didn’t take these courses in the first place. And most importantly the friends I made along the way in these courses. Besides, what else starts friendships than communal suffering over a LS1A pset.
I have another one. In my sophomore year and then in my junior year, my grandmother and my grandfather died respectively. From those events I have many regrets. I regret how I handled my grief on the days that followed. I regret not reaching out more when I needed it. And I regretted not spending as much time with them as I can either in person or through WhatsApp video calls. But that experience amongst others made me realize how important it is to spend time with your loved ones as much as possible and to appreciate them every single day.
There are other regrets of course. Some major some minor. Doing and not doing certain clubs or events. Not exploring Cambridge and the Boston area before I graduate. Not talking to as many people as possible to know about their own perspectives and life experiences. Not eating more monkey bread from Leverett. I’m going to miss that so much. The thing about places like Harvard.. Sorry is there a place like Harvard? The thing about Harvard is that you are presented with a plethora of options and each decision can set you off a different path. And while we have fear of missing out about each special guest we miss or every consulting event we didn’t go to, we can appreciate and understand the times and events we did spend our time in and how much we learned from them.
But I do not speak of my regrets as merely burdens and we shouldn’t. I think of them as the choices we actively made here and the lives we have experienced fully here at Harvard and beyond. We should use these regrets in order to instruct how we want to live our lives. More importantly, we should use our regrets in order to help and mentor the people we meet along the way whether as colleagues, mentees, family or even strangers on the street. They will make their own mistakes for sure but learning from the lives we have led can make it easier for them to decide the experiences and also maybe the regrets they might be willing to take. And we as Harvard faculty, students, and everyone associated, we have a duty to do our best to help our community in the best way possible. And besides, some of the best things about regrets is that I meet wonderful people along the way.
Because out of the many things I am glad to experience at Harvard, it is the people. From these people who became my acquaintances to my friends and most importantly who have become my family. I am so thankful and I will use my regrets to become a better person.
Thank you so much for spending the time listening today.