Shelbi Fitzpatrick's Words of Wisdom

Shelbi Fitzpatrick '19 is the Assistant Director of the Native American Program. 

Shared in the May 11, 2020 NAP Weekly Newsletter

Contributed by Shelbi Fitzpatrick '19, Assistant Director of the Native American Program

I'm really not one to be giving wisdom, I still confuse "loose" and "lose" and I pretend to like my coffee black while in the workplace. This is also going to get pretty personal and therefore maybe not super relatable. But hey, either way, I'm happy we could share a cup of (mostly cream) 'joe together. 

As a young adult I can't help but think about how this virus, which I anthropomorphize too regularly, will rudely impact some of the best years of my life. I know, that sounded grim, maybe selfish and a little petty…so I turned to myself to ask, where is the silver lining?"

This isn't something I like to admit, but I tend to be a glass-half-empty type person and I'm actually pretty skeptical of most things (i.e. instant whipped coffee, celebrity skin care routines, and *gasp* spam). So, when I naturally asked myself about a silver lining, I naturally responded to myself with, "does there have to be a silver lining? Can't this just be awful all on its own?" 

The answer I arrived to was, "absolutely, with some caveats."

Silver lining: I've learned a great deal about myself post-Dartmouth/amid quarantine life. For example, mayonnaise, coffee, and sour cream have become some of my favorite baking ingredients (I know, surprising even for an avid baker). 

Silver lining: I've taken comfort in learning more about where I'm currently situated – rad Abenaki territory, in food, and in LGBTQIA+ series and movies*.

Silver lining: Campus is quiet without you all so I've assumed the responsibility of eating my (and your) fair share of Lou's donuts, Tuk tuk curry, and Molly's bread in your absences. It's just a little thing, but I'm happy to help in whatever way I can during these times. 

Silver lining: I'm so grateful to be part of your lives, even if just in a small way. Being on the "before" end of student-turned-xyz is quite exhilarating. Remember me when you all become Movie Stars with aggressive skin-care routines, Wall Street Brokers, Surgeons, and Assistant Directors of the Native American Program at Dartmouth College.  

On a somewhat serious note, I've been watching the newest trilogy of Star Wars. In the final episode in the trilogy, The Rise of Skywalker, Rey (a "force-sensitive human female who, after years of living as a scavenger, became a jedi") tries to give up on being a Jedi. Luke Skywalker (Rey's deceased mentor) essentially rises from his grave and said something that struck me to the floor. His wisdom was as follows, "We've passed on all we know. A thousand generations live in you now. But this is your fight."

This was fitting for approximately two reasons: 1) I've been re-watching the series, Avatar the Last Airbender and there are a lot of correlations that I won't get into here but would love to discuss if you're interested and 2) I've also been reflecting a great deal about my grandparents and how impactful they were to me. I associated them with the gods as a child. To think that in this very moment a little bit of all my ancestors lives in me is quite, well. . . I'm surprised I don't have superhuman powers because my ancestors were amazing. This has been a helpful realization to incorporate during those days when I feel like a very little little little version of myself.   

A thousand generations live in you, feel the warmth they bring. May the force be with you.  

p.s Here is some other (not calling it wisdom) stuff that has helped me during quarantine: putting my face in the sun, showering occasionally, being compassionate with myself and my housemates, reaching out for help when I need it, and surprisingly, drinking water.

*Some recommendations: (I must warn that not all are heteronormative or PG…or even PG-14) A Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Never Have I Ever, Call Me By Your Name, Broad City, A Secret Love, I Am Not Okay with This, and Feel Good.