Community. Man was created as a social creature. Friends and family, wherever it may be, human kind has been seeking each other out and picking a specific person or people to spend time with more than others. An odd concept in theory, that we on basic instinct pick other creatures like us and spend unusual amount of time with each other in the name if “friendship”. But we can all admit that there isn’t anything strange about a true, honest friendship. Nicholas Hamm would certainly say so. I recently was privileged to get to know Nicholas a bit in an interview and one of the most outstanding points that Nicholas, purposefully or not, made, was that he nearly lives for community.
I asked Nicholas where he comes from and a bit about his family. He grew up in myriad of places as his parents served in the mission’s field abroad. He accredited his affinity for community and stability to this. For most of his early life, he spent it moving every few months or years and rarely had a sense of assurance or confidence in the longevity of his current situation. Coming to Wheaton ended up one of the most secure things he had done in his life, and, when I asked about what his favorite “thing” was, he told me a story that perfectly proves it.
After being asked, Nicholas looked into space for a moment and then responded “My favorite thing? Oh, well here’s a story off the top of my head…” and proceeded to tell me about how recently, one of his friends, rather out of nowhere, invited what he referred to as “the group”, himself and a number of his closest friends, over for dinner. They ate home cooked food and talked for hours.
I imagined this scene as a warmly lit, comfortable room with friends sitting on couches all drinking warm apple cider and laughing together. Didn’t matter what was outside, or what was happening the next day, whether it be tests or meetings or interviews, the group of friends all just spent that time being together. Being friends. Being a community.
I like to imagine that Wheaton lends itself well to this kind of interaction. At bigger state schools, there is so much pressure to be something for people. Be cool, be athletic, be successful, be at the parties, be where the cool things are happening. And when Wheaton students don’t have anything to do on a lazy evening, they get together. They commune. Nicholas wasn’t anything for anyone besides simply himself with his friends.
“I would have told myself to not get riled up so easily” he responded when I asked what he would tell his younger self now and promptly told me a story about how he got annoyed as a younger kid and punched another student. It wasn’t for anything big, in fact immediately afterwards he said he stepped back and apologized. From my interaction with Nicholas, even if he was a free spirit then, he seemed quite well put together now. From our conversation, it seems he’s efficiently taken what at one point may have been an unbridled spirit and turned it into a drive to satisfy his passion.
I asked Nicholas about what he hoped for in the future and again a sense of community cropped up. Having spent most of his childhood moving and abroad, I wondered if maybe he would immediately want to settle down and never move a muscle. On the contrary, while he certainly wanted some stability for a while, Nicholas wasn’t opposed to traveling a bit. He mentioned the reason for wanting to settle down certainly stemmed from his childhood he thought. He wanted something more constant, whether for him or whoever was in his life. He wanted to be able to establish people in his life that were more permanent than he was able to in the past. And having tasted it at Wheaton, I’d say he was ready for more.
Nicholas himself may not be sure of what his future holds or whether or not he is going to be necessarily secure forever from now on, but he has the passion and the spirit to go far. Additionally, Hamm has one thing people I think forget in their endeavors: people. He has a willingness and even eagerness to be with the people around him. Those he calls friends are his constant. I’d argue that even if every turbulent thing around him began to shake at once, he would find solace in his friends. He would find it in the warm room with laughing friends and a mug of apple cider. He would find it enjoying the company of those that are constant, not necessarily “that” which is constant.