Freshmen, kindly get over yourselves

Alex Sorondo/Asst. Opinion Editor

While many of the freshmen who live on campus are exuberant and friendly, excited to be on their own and eager to make friends, there’s another camp – only slightly smaller – that isn’t so cute and pleasant.

High on their newfound autonomy, they try too hard to act as though this independence thing is old hat: staying up all night, setting their own hours, drinking and smoking and hooking up with such total abandon that, yeah, obviously this is just, like, what they do.

What they don’t realize, however, is that, for most college students, the fact that you do these things is, paradoxically, proof that you actually don’t.

Rampant transgressions with drugs, sex, and alcohol; indifference toward time-management, total nonchalance in skipping classes and assignments, a snobbish reticence to socialize with anybody who doesn’t seem exciting: college students generally don’t do these things. Careless eighteen-year-olds often do, but they usually don’t end up earning the sacred parchment, the great gown, the graduation cap.

There is an illusion, glorified in high school captivity, that college is the land of the free, home of the promiscuous. The tap runs forever, and the tab is limitless; the work is optional, the girls are easy, the consequences easily dodged. So goes the dream.

But it’s exactly that: a dream. For the majority of us, this will indeed be the most rambunctious, fun, reckless, promiscuous, experimental time of our lives. But there’s also discipline, the importance of which ranks far above all else, and is probably the most crucial lesson you’ll take from the University. An understanding of yourself, of your limits, of how to balance fun with work.

And you’ll find – if I may ride my high horse just a few meters more – that your discipline brings with it a good and valuable dose of humility; because you’ll eventually have to ask yourself, in scrambling out of bed to reach your class on time, “Why bother?” There are several answers, of course, some more utilitarian than others, but I hope you’ll settle finally upon the simplest, which is that you must go to class because you are, alas, an idiot.

We all are, to varying degrees. The scope of our ignorance spans, literally, galaxies. And I say this with love, really, and no doubt in my mind that you may well be surpassingly bright and experienced when compared to the bulk of your peers.

But trust me, no senior looks back on their freshman self and says, “I was totally ready for the world. This was a waste of time.” Mostly, they balk with shame at how they behaved, how they treated people, how they irreparably damaged their GPA. And, of course, they remember how much fun they had. But the mix is still pretty sordid.

The freshman ego is a nuisance, an ogre, an incarnation of a bad memory. I walk, on some evenings, through the housing quad with another senior, a smoker, who has a knack for pointing out freshman smokers and deducing, on the basis of their posture and how they hold the cigarette, “She’s been smoking for a week. That one hates it, look how tense she is, how she squints.” But they do it to look cool, careless, undaunted by risks.

Freshmen, you’re vessels of potential. While you might now hold the allure of charm or kindness or good looks or money, you’ve yet to make a dent in the world. So stay modest, be friendly, and, please, keep it down.

Be the first to comment on "Freshmen, kindly get over yourselves"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.