College Offers Us Time to Get Weird

If a healthy life could be diagrammed like a food pyramid, what would it look like? Thirty-five percent sleep, 25 percent work, 25 percent time with loved ones, five percent exercise, five percent reflection, and five percent miscellaneous? I’m tenuously extrapolating from what I’ve read in Oprah magazine, which is weirdly a lot, but still, don’t take my word for it. My breakdown is more like 70 percent Tumblr, 20 percent bad television, and 10 percent bemoaning my dearth of accomplishments through mouthfuls of Frank Dining Hall burritos. 

College students. We’re infamous for our caprice. I’ll never forget my first pre-Pomona College jaunt to Bed Bath & Beyond, during which a grim-faced sales associate led me through a labyrinth of products, pointing out those advertised to protect against mold and bedbugs and red wine stains. I put them into the cart nervously, wondering if my peers and I were truly doomed to such a bestial existence. Sure, the absence of parental guidance implied some degree of personal anarchy. But I figured that, soon enough, the dust would settle and a balance would be struck. Wild Saturday nights would be mediated by diligent library Sundays. My study breaks would consist of exercise, laundry, and the occasional act of community service. Oprah would be proud.

Well, it’s 1 a.m., and I can’t go to bed until my bed linens come out of the dryer. On that note, I wore a bikini under my clothes today, partially due to a lack of options and partially due to a premeditated nap on Marston Quad. Let’s just not discuss the unidentifiable gray fuzz in my mini fridge. Yeah, college happened. One could chalk up my disarray to laziness. And one would, if by one we mean my mom. If you’re reading this, Mom, please avert your eyes and go back to downloading books to your Kindle or whatever you do on the Internet. 

The carelessness of college is more than meets the eye. Dally about your day and listen to how we one-up each other with tales of irresponsibility, often delivered with both a wince and a smile. We compare numbers: How many days late did you turn in that paper? How many nights did you go out last week? It’s an odd form of social currency: both a celebration of the relative absence of consequences that exist in college and a license to justify your worst behaviors. 

Self-indulgent? Yes. Unrealistic? Of course. Potentially smelly? Duh. But wrong? I think not. 

We have all the time in the world to develop good habits. Eventually I’ll start planning ahead and managing my time and who knows, even dispose of perishable food items before they unleash moldy havoc. I promise, Mom! Meanwhile, we have limited time until the Man comes a-knocking. I’ve always been a pretty good kid, but before society slaps on the manacles, I want to taste my freedom. I want to spend an entire afternoon in the library researching a person who is peripherally mentioned in my reading just because they sound cool. I want to sleep under the stars. I want to lose myself in this morass of smart young people testing each other and testing themselves. 

For a little while, the constraints of temporal and financial obligations have been muted for us. Of course, this all disregards people’s personal backgrounds, but it’s safe to say that, in general, college is one of the most forgiving environments we will ever have a chance to inhabit. So while we’re here, let’s get weird. Let’s be obsessive and one-dimensional and unclean sometimes. Because the day will roll around where we’ll have to freshen up and pay our dues.

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