My unwanted ‘right to be forgotten’

Given the monumental influence college has had on me, my lack of impact upon it now seems disheartening. Louise Lawless on her final days in college

The 'right to be forgotten', recognised by the European Union as the right of individuals to ask search engines to delete information about themselves, is one with which I am not closely acquainted.

But in the (worringly) near future my college will grant a similar ‘right’ to me, whether I want it or not.

Doomed to being forgotten, having failed to make enough of an impact for my upcoming absence to be felt, the approaching summer of my final year feels like a break-up, with college reminding me that, ‘it’s not them, it’s me, time to move on’.

And although always aware of the expiration date of this partnership, and despite knowing that this is the best case scenario, it still feels bittersweet to close this formative chapter of my life.

As I move off from the comfort of college into a future of uncertainty, it feels sad to think that even by the time I come back for graduation, Trinity will have moved on unless in the meantime I become bold, big, better and can be held up as a shining example.

For the vast majority of students, those who have stayedunder the radar of the Student Union, and who aren't Big Names On Campus (BNOCs), we are but small fish in this collegial pond, and will be quickly forgotten.

My name will not be found on boards or benches here. Having not represented in sports, music, or debating, and being neither a SU hack or a society devotee, nor Gaeilgóir, debater, scholar, but have dabbled in a little bit of it all, Trinity will forget that I ever called it my second home.

There are people who Trinity won't forget: alumni who are raised as examples, from the politicians -Leo Varadkar, Lynn Ruane, Ivana Bacik-, to the trail blazers, -first and second female presidents- to the iconic classics -Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett- Sports teams will be remembered for winning/losing/existing. Those who seek excellence in other industries; science, entrepreneurship, music, literature, are the people earmarked for future greatness, author Louise O'Neill, and entrepreneur Michael O' Leary raised as alumni Trinity are proud to claim as their own.

Given the monumental influence college has had on me, my lack of impact upon it now seems disheartening, but why bother trying when competing with the greats? It is only now that the penny has dropped,- perhaps belatedly- , that I finally understand the image of Trinity that others see, the Trinners for Winners, ‘the most prestigious college in Ireland’, and being ‘the university of Dublin’. And with this, the realisation that I am none of those things; neither a winner, nor prestigious, nor deserving of any of the acclaim that falls on this historic institution, that although I am a member of it, I am not the apparently typical Trinity embodiment of success, but a wallflower, creating a pretty backdrop for others to compare against.

College’s influence, on a rudimentary level, is the journey from teens to twenties, from being a school child to a student, completing the revolution of child to an adult. Admittedly it rarely runs smooth, and mistakes/ lessons are regularly made.

Like a second puberty it is not a sleek transition, and ‘repeating one’s follies’ is frequent, seemingly proving our youth and immaturity. But it also enables some of the “once in a lifetime” experiences: meeting forever kind of friends, living abroad for a year, developing interests that lay dormant before.

Within these walls our ideas and opinions are shaped, friendships formed, and often our futures careers are initiated.

The repercussions/consequences of this four year fling with Trinity will impact heavier and be further reaching on me, than my involvement will on it, which will go unnoticed.

Despite college’s unintentional apathy towards my existence here, on a personal level from here on in everything is underwritten with a living, breathing nostalgia, acutely aware that these irregularities of student life have to be savoured; the community in all its forms; encompassing close friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and even familiar strangers, the blessing and curse of knowing a lot of faces on Campus and the temporal label of ‘student’,

But, even with the premature sadness, there comes a time when you yearn for change. For a new chapter to begin so that you can take what you’ve learnt from this chapter, and apply it to the next one, gaining a chance to build yourself anew.