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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, April 14, 2024

Dear Jumbo: A tale of two Jumbos

Once upon a present time, there were two Jumbo seniors. One of them is a well-known campus figure whom many people look up to and go to for advice. Walk with her across Professors Row, and you will find her smiling and waving, while you step back and bask in her glowing halo. She tries her best to help other people, but often feels the burden, as she cannot be there for the many people she meets. She wants to do more.

The other senior is a bit less well-known. He often shuns places with lots of people like Tisch, dining halls and definitely parties. He finds his own quiet corner until he cannot take the loneliness anymore; only then he goes out and gets one or two breaths of other humans. People may think he is too busy figuring out the world, so few come to him for advice. He too wants to do more.

The two seniors know each other and know that they have a similar goal. As they talk, it dawns on him that he does not care about his reputation. He has only one goal: To learn to make better gifts for the world. If what that goal takes is being better known, then so be it.  For him, there is no good or bad opinion of himself. There is only feedback.

Now, why am I telling this story?

You may guess the obvious reason: that guy is me. The not-so-obvious reason is that you may have seen such dynamics throughout your Tufts life and perhaps have even asked yourself: How should I be known?

Many people live their lives for the limelight. Others shun it. I'm trying to care in a different way. Remember one of the Tufts admission essay prompts, the Quaker saying, "Let your life speak?" In my ideal world, it would instead be, "Let others speak your life." Alas, in this world, we’ve got to do both, neither of which is easy.

For example, while writing this, a voice in my head kept nagging, "WHO ARE YOU TO SAY THIS?" I used to engage in that debate pretty loudly, struggling to defend my self-worth by claiming that I am a senior, that I’ve been through this college thing, that I have something to share.

Now I've learned to respond to that voice more calmly: "I get your point and appreciate your worry. Relax, my friend." It worked like a charm: That voice in turn stopped yelling. Now it asks a much gentler set of questions, inspired by the late Rumi: “Are you sharing what is true for yourself, what is necessary for others, and what is kind for everyone?”

This, I truly appreciate.

Most of this advice is intended to share stories of what I've learned in my time here that has helped me in meaningful ways. A part of it is also intended as useful advice for people, thereby the name Dear Jumbo, as Jumbo is both you and me. I hope you enjoy the advice and maybe find it helpful. Please let me know at