I’m so sorry I missed you today. I really wanted to see you. I swear. As soon as I found out that you would be Harvard’s 2015 Class Day speaker, I thought it would be so cool to go and see you. I’ve always admired you, not only as an actress, but for the way you carry yourself. You’re as smart as you are talented.
And it would have been easy to see you. As a Harvard alumnus, all I had to do was go by the Harvard Alumni Office, tell them I wanted to see you, and they would have given me a ticket. I even had friends who were going. They encouraged me to come. They said, “just go to the alumni office, Alan. It’s not that complicated.” I told them okay. Sure. I’ll just go and pick up my ticket.
But…I didn’t. Not because I didn’t want to. It was because I was afraid to.
See Natalie, I’ve developed an enormous fear of crowds. Because of that, I didn’t even attend my own Harvard graduation last year. Of course, this being the technological age, the whole thing was streamed live online. I watched all the pomp and circumstance alone in my apartment. I swear, I actually liked it that way.
I really thought my fear of crowds will ease up this year. I thought the 2015 graduation would be easier, because I wasn’t among the graduates. I could just go and celebrate the new Class of 2015, and there would be no pressure at all.
But that’s logical thinking, dear Natalie. And when you have chronic anxiety, as I do, logic goes out the window. I could watch your appearance today online. But I kind of don’t want to. I’m really knocking myself for not picking up my ticket, and not seeing you in person.
You strike me as someone with a great deal of empathy. I’m pretty sure that, if you could speak to me, you’d tell me that it’s okay, and to take care of myself. I’m trying. I really am. And I’ve got to hand it to the Harvard Alumni Association. As soon as you graduate, you become an association member–whether you want to or not. Even though I’ve only gone to maybe two Harvard events since I graduated, they keep sending me emails. Lots and lots of emails. I think I’d have to move to Mars to stop Harvard from finding me.
This means that I will get other chances to be part of a big Harvard crowd. Maybe I’ll be ready to celebrate the Class of 2016. And maybe, when my 5 and 10 year reunions come up, I might actually go. I’ve never in my life gone to any class reunion. And I’ve never really wanted to. That’s how much of a loner I’ve always been.
Still, as I look at my Facebook feed and see so many photos of people going to their reunions–and really enjoying themselves–I’m starting to feel the pangs of what I’ve been missing. I guess that’s good.
But for now, I just wanted to say how sorry I am. Someone once told that when you apologize, you do it as much for yourself as you do for the other person. That’s sure true in this case. Even if I decide not to watch you online, I’m sure you were terrific. Missing you today was my loss.
It’s just one example of how much my anxiety costs me. But I’m going to keep trying to do better. Because, Natalie, I’m really tired of paying these costs. Missing you might just be the spark I need to push myself a little further.
Harvard Class of 2014