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You loved me, for me

In an original poem about her experiences in Chapel Hill, Sakari Singleton says that the University has always loved her for her. Carolina, she says, helped her become stronger, better and wiser by opening doors to new friendships and relationships.

Sakari Singleton
Senior Sakari Singleton poses for a portrait on February 4, 2020, on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

You loved me, for me
I used to admire you from afar,
Watching all of your basketball games and rooting for you religiously
The sound of your name excited me, made me smile a bit harder
Something about you just sounded… right

I wanted to be with you, apart of you
Closer than the average fan or follower
But you required me to be driven, dedicated, and different
You were hard to get — non-accepting of anyone average or ordinary

I needed to work hard to get close to you
I went on a quest to outdo and outperform
Trying to achieve high accolades, scores, and numbers
But that criteria didn’t quite touch your heart

You wanted to know me — the real me
The small details that made my life just a bit different from the rest
My biggest triumphs and heartbreaks
The very moments that knocked me off of my feet
What made me tick and what made me stop

I spent so long trying to be perfect for you
But all you wanted was to nurture my imperfections
You made me shed myself of the shell I held onto so strongly
So raw and exposed, you accepted even the most dreadful parts of myself

I finally understood what it meant to be seen
Not for the shiny trophies I usually disclosed the world
But rather for the road I trekked to get them
I loved that about you
Because you loved me, for me

Becoming a part of you was just as remarkable as I had imagined
I gained a family, one bonded by a shared love for you
One so dynamically passionate about every. single. cause.
A family I knew I could lean into when my family seemed so far away

But it was the little things that stole my heart
The way your trees and flowers frolic around in harmony during the springtime
Or the constant hum of unparalleled students buzzing around
Melting perfectly into your picture-perfect backdrop
The random puppies you’ll find playing frisbee in the quad
Alongside a professor teaching a class beneath the sun

You made me smile a million and one times
Yet, even my happiness was balanced by discomfort
Like any relationship, you challenged me
With you, I felt constantly stretched
Stretched past my limits and the boundaries I had previously established in my life

You made me defy all odds and venture into the unknown
Blindly, you pushed me further, not knowing where I would fall
You constantly told me to be better, when I was giving you my best
Endlessly, you made me redefine the extent of my capabilities

With you, I became stronger, better, wiser
You opened up doors to friendships, relationships and conflicts
That taught me more about the world and humanity than I could have ever imagined
You went on to show me that life is nowhere near perfect
Not anything like the unicorns and rainbows I had thought it to be before

But you would introduce me to the sweetest souls and internal spaces
And in that, I met so many versions of me
One that was broken
And finally, a peaceful me

I would change shape and form a trillion times over
While you made me love the most unlovable me
And no matter how ugly or beautiful I became
No matter how many times I fell, failed, and cried
No matter how many times I told you, I cannot get up and go on
You, knowing my potential and just how great I could be
Kept on, loving me, for me.