CELONA: Learning to break (most of) the rules



Thomas Celona

Sometimes you just have to break the rules, and I think now seems like just the right time.

For the past three years, I was the one who enforced the rules at this very publication. I was the one who wielded the red pen. I vigilantly followed the rules set down in the Associated Press Stylebook, cut every comma that was out of place, upset my share of writers in the process and refused to let anyone use the word “I” or refer to themselves in a column (an infraction I have now made five times already).

But if I learned anything from my time at The Villanovan, it’s that sometimes you’re not supposed to follow the rules.

Arriving on campus, I had a lot of notions about how my four years at Villanova would go. I knew what classes I would take, what groups I wanted to get involved in, what career I would follow after my time here was over.

Needless to say, those plans did not play out as I’d expected.

And now, as all that remains before I don my cap and gown is a single final exam and the events of Senior Week, I realize how much this paper singlehandedly upset the notions I’d had about what my experience would be like. Because looking back, there are certain things that just aren’t supposed to happen:

A simple e-mail about a chance to join the student newspaper and add something to your resumé isn’t supposed to change your life.

You’re not supposed to learn more from your work with a student organization than you ever did in all of your classes combined.

Your choice of extracurricular activity isn’t supposed to completely rework your career plans.

The people you’re forced to spend time with in a cramped, oppressively hot office until 4 a.m. each week aren’t supposed to end up being some of your absolute closest friends. To those of you who I spent those late nights with and who put up with me and my red pen, I can say that it truly has been an honor and a privilege, and I would not have wanted to go after longevity with any other group.

No sane person should begin thinking in inverted pyramid.

You’re not supposed to get two trips to spend St. Patrick’s Day weekend in New York City – all on the University.

You’re not supposed to actually look forward to the day when you walk into an office at 8 a.m., knowing you won’t be leaving until well past midnight. But most people also do not get the chance to experience the sense of peace that descends over campus when the sun rises behind Kennedy Hall and you are the only one amid the still quiet to witness it from the roof of Dougherty Hall.

You’re not supposed to get excited when it’s time to CyberDuck.

You’re not supposed to get an intramural team named after you – although The TomCats is an awesome name.

And the night you are finally finished with the job that has so often been a headache and a nervous-breakdown-in-the-waiting, you’re supposed to be happy and relieved; you’re not supposed to almost tear up at the thought that it’s all over.

But that’s the way life goes. The rules you think you know don’t always hold true.

However, it is exactly when those rules bend that you discover the most about yourself. So be open to those unexpected opportunities; they may end up throwing your perfectly planned life into disarray, but that might just be the best thing that has ever happened to you.

If I have learned nothing else over these four years, it’s that expectations don’t always fulfill themselves, things don’t always work out the way you think they are supposed to and there are certain times when it’s right to go against the grain and break a rule or two.

Except the rules of AP Style.

That would just be going too far.


Thomas Celona is a senior English and honors major from Rollinsford, N.H. He can be reached at [email protected].