People are strange

Brittany Moffat

In “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Blanche DuBois says she has always “depended on the kindness of strangers.”

In my experience, strangers have been anything but kind.

At least that was the case until I came to Kent State two years ago. I was riding a wave of disappointment; I was responsible for at least part it.

The first day of classes terrified me, and I hadn’t even set foot in a classroom yet. I credit the first professor I met with changing my expectations of strangers. She parceled out encouragement even as she corrected papers. Before I realized what she was about, I had a job working for this paper.

The first person I worked with here at the Stater didn’t hold my inexperience or who I was against me. They introduced me to a second person and a third, and so on. The strangers in the newsroom became coworkers, then colleagues and friends. Scratch that; these people who were strangers are like my family now.

The professors whose classes I’ve taken have also become like family. There are the newsroom moms who tell us to go home when we’re not feeling well, feed us or sometimes just remind us not to worry about what we can’t change.

I’ll be graduating in August, nearly two years to the day I started at Kent State. I’ve learned more from the strangers here than in all my previous years of education and life experience.

They taught me how to take my work seriously while celebrating the aspects that make it fun.

In many cases, they taught me how to actually do my job. My classmates and friends have been as much my teachers as the professors have.

They taught me that sometimes loyalty is rewarded.

They taught me the value of speaking up, even when no one in a room knows your name or why you are there.

They taught me that sometimes the best way to deal with frustration is to throw your baseball cap across the room. And sometimes it’s a bottle of $3 wine shared with friends after a long afternoon cooped up inside.

They taught me the importance of being passionate about what I do – and of complimenting the work of others who are equally passionate.

They taught me the importance of not being intimidated in this profession just because someone thinks he or she has more experience or seniority or whatever over me.

They taught me not to say “no” just because it’s more convenient.

They taught me the value of being part of something larger than myself, especially when the end result is something joyous or horrific, and we need someone to turn to.

And they taught me that sometimes all anyone needs is a dark room, a disco ball and blaring music to make the world all right.

I’ll be leaving them in a little more than three months. I’m terrified again of what lies ahead of me – mostly because I don’t know what is ahead.

But the strangers I’ve come to call my friends have cemented in my mind perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned in the last 10 years.

They taught me to endure, to thrive and to give strangers a chance. For that, I will always be grateful.

Brittany Moffat is a senior magazine journalism major and a guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].