A rotating cast of characters

One of the most common causes for concern people have when they come tour NC State is its size. As the largest school in North Carolina, NC State boasts a population of 34,009 students. “That’s 34,009 opportunities to make a new best friend!” we say.

To an extent, they’re right. But it’s not quite the reality.

Looking back at my last four years of college, there were scores of people fading in and out of visibility and importance in my life. As one person, name, and story left, another entered. With every entrance, a new nameless face around campus became instantly more recognizable, instantly friendlier.

Sonder

n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

~The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

The 34,009 potential new best friends aren’t potential new best friends. But they are 34,009 stories filling 3.2 square miles (with a density of 10,627.81 stories per square mile).

Each story has a plot with its own ups, downs, and all arounds. There’s not one life story I’ve seen yet that hasn’t kept me in rapt attention. There’s a certain merit to taking that definition of sonder to heart. I know my story just like you do yours. Sonder is a state of mind that lets us all appreciate the next person as a living, breathing person worthy of their own merits.

My own rotating cast

In the past three weeks, I’ve met at least 15 new people. Of those 15, six I’m in regular contact with. Of those six, I’ll maybe see two of them after the semester. That’s how it works at a school of this size and–let’s be honest–in the real world.

The thing is, just because one person will be in my life in a support role for a short period of time doesn’t mean that I should treat them as less deserving of my attention and time as someone I will see regularly for the rest of my life.

That’s just not cool.

You, like me, deserve full respect by everybody. And while sometimes we might have absolutely nothing in common, that doesn’t mean that we can’t

  1. Enjoy each others’ company
  2. Respect each other

That’s just my two cents.

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