As I sit here, hitting keys while I wait for my seminar to start, I realize that there is little I can say that will sum up my whole experience at Binghamton University. I can come up with bits of advice, to be sure — create relationships with your professors, stay in contact with your friends even if you haven’t done anything together in a while and go to club meetings. And all of these things are certainly true. Other senior columns have written about being willing to accept experiences as they come and the importance of recognizing that wherever you are now is likely where you’re supposed to be. And I certainly agree with these. And what I have to say here is similar to both these sentiments, but is something that I feel better captures the diversity in experience that I’ve had.

What I have to say is this — get used to the idea that in college, you’ll wear a lot of hats.

I have four or five literal hats in my dorm now, but I obviously don’t mean this literally (although there’s certainly nothing wrong with it!) What I mean is that even at one moment, you will find yourself filling several different roles. There is the version of yourself that functions within your clubs, which will be different from the version of yourself that you present in your classes. This will be different from the “hat” you wear with your friends. And of course, you will probably wear different “hats” with different friend groups.

This is certainly not to say that you ought to be artificial — I’m not saying that you should present a “false” version of yourself to other people. What I like about my analogy is that a hat is not a disguise. A hat certainly modifies a person’s appearance, but it isn’t a disguise. Wearing a hat is not a deceptive act. What I am saying, rather, is that one of the best parts of college is the vast range of experiences you will have. These experiences will provoke different aspects of your personality — and allow you to develop as a multifaceted person.

This semester, my classes and the work I’ve done to prepare to apply to graduate school have taken up a large portion of my life. Nonetheless, even this semester I’ve found myself wearing many hats. The hat I wear to talk about philosophy is different than the ones I wear when I hang out with different groups of people. I found myself wearing yet another type of hat when I went downtown on Halloween night to see Canned Peaches perform. In previous semesters I’ve worn political hats, I’ve worn the hats that get you into different types of parties and the hats associated with clubs that I liked but had to take a break from. There’s only so much room on my head at a time.

I encourage you to try on as many hats as you can, but not all hats fit. There’s nothing wrong with that — it simply means that they will be worn by someone else. I’ve been bored at parties, I’ve hung out with people and said “we should do this again!” only to never text them and I’ve taken classes that have been less interesting than I thought they would be. But every party I’ve been bored at has shown me something about who I enjoy interacting with the most. Every class that I’ve disliked has brought me closer to the strain of philosophy that I’ve been allowed to practice in my honors seminar. When you’re at the hat shop, even if you plan on buying seven or eight hats that day, you will try on dozens of others before you find the ones that fit the best.

As much as I like my little analogy, I’m going to drop the stuff with the hats for these last few sentences. I’m in the Pipe Dream office now and I’m thinking about how genuinely happy I am to have had every interaction that I have. There are conversations I’ve had at parties with people whose names I don’t remember that cross my mind once in a while. I am truly grateful for all the friends who I’ve had here, who’ve helped me develop portions of my personality. I’m grateful to my professors who’ve helped to shape my interests and who’ve all been willing to give me advice about my next steps. I’m grateful to my girlfriend who’s watched a large portion of all this happen. I hope during finals week to see all of my friends a few more times and there are various apps on my phone where they live. But in the meantime, thank you to anyone who I’ve been friends with or who taught me and to anyone who I’ve talked to, even once. I am a different person than I was when I started here. I contain more different “people” than I did when I arrived. And I am thankful to have been every one of them.

Desmond Keuper is a senior majoring in philosophy and is Pipe Dream’s assistant opinions editor.