OPINION: Wonka’s wisdom

Madison Patterson

“But Charlie, don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he always wanted.”

“What happened?”

“He lived happily ever after.”

I can’t remember why, but I chose this concluding scene from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” for my high school senior quote. It reminded me of my father, sure, but it had little application to my headspace.

Kent State was decidedly not everything I always wanted.

Back then, I wanted to attend school somewhere captivating and cosmopolitan, so I applied to five schools: New York University, Rutgers University, Fordham University, Western Washington University and Kent State University. Kent State didn’t exactly top that list. But when financial packages started rolling in, it was clear that it was the only one we could afford.

Deep feelings of resentment developed when I arrived. Kent did not captivate me.

In this time of near-graduation reflection, I can see that I haven’t been completely fair to this university. I’m lucky to have been able to go to college at all. And this college helped high school pipe-dreams come true: living in Paris and working in New York, finding best friends and mentors, seeing my name in print.

But the parts where I didn’t get everything I ever wanted at Kent State were perhaps even more valuable. I’ve been rejected for opportunities and positions that I was sure my life depended on. Friendships have been demolished, leaving behind emotional rubble and ruins. Begging, borrowing and stealing were all sizeable chunks of this messy educational journey. At once crushing and minor, some of those Neosporin-smeared, bandage-covered gashes still sting.

Yet, I regret nothing.

Prior despair isn’t necessary for future happiness, but without experiencing the growing pains of disappointment and heartache, the moments of triumph we do experience wouldn’t taste nearly as sweet. Just look at Charlie Bucket.

I still look forward to a future far away. Some things (like hating the extreme cold) haven’t changed. But for the first time, I want to thank Kent State.

It allowed me moments where I truly felt like I had everything I ever wanted.

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