September 30, 2014

BYRNE | The Most Awkward Things I’ve Ever Experienced

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Less than one month ago, I was trying to walk out of the Schwartz Center during Tapestry, and an administrator of the event would not allow me to leave because it’s a required event for all freshmen. I’m a senior. I asked my driving instructor why I wasn’t allowed to make a left turn on red. When I was five, my best friend and I taste-tested all of the plants in our yard, then lied about it to my mom. (Don’t know if that’s awkward so much as just life-threateningly stupid.) I have a reminder on my phone that tells me every day, “You’re taking the MCAT,” so I’m not tempted to just not take it. And if I’m being honest, there’s a pretty high chance I still won’t take it. Random freshmen always start conversations with me because I live on North, and they are super eager to make friends until they find out I’m not a freshman. Working out next to someone who’s taking selfies of themselves on the treadmill.  I once dressed up as Laura Ingalls Wilder from Little House on the Prairie for Halloween, but I was in second grade, and no one else knew who it was.

Since coming to Cornell, I’ve learned how to be extremely judgmental of everyone around me. Whether it’s because of a grade they got on a prelim or a conversation overheard on the Arts Quad (looking at you, 10 a.m. drunk girl), it’s unbelievably easy to just think you’re a gift to the world because of your lack of stupidity. Like, who even arrives early to an 8:40 a.m. class? And I’d just like to point out that if you’re complaining about that — as I do sometimes — you, too, have arrived early to said class. Honestly, if you’re complaining about people in general, you should know that someone right next to you is also inwardly complaining about you. Welcome to the Ivy League. I was recently introduced to Yik Yak, and let me tell you, that thing is a pit of stupidity, whining and rudeness. Sometimes it’s funny, but where is the line where we all just become commentators, judging everything and doing nothing because we’re too afraid of judgment.

The other day, someone randomly started a conversation with me on the line at Wegman’s, and I was beyond irritated. Then, I thought, why? It’s probably just because I’m an unbelievably awkward person. That fellow grocery-shopper wasn’t doing anything absurd; I just cannot function in everyday society. As a soon-to-be graduate of this fine university, I have realized that soon I will be in what they call the real world. Once I get there, I can only imagine that an even higher percentage of people in my immediate environment will annoy me to no end. But here’s something I realized this week: I cannot wait.

Last summer, I worked at a summer day camp based out of New York City, and most of my fellow counselors were from Manhattan. All were amazingly enthusiastic, funny and wonderful to be around, and I could not have cared less where they went to school or how they spent their free time. My mom met all my work friends, and she remarked how incredibly courteous they all were compared to the rest of my friends. So yes, Cornell is a good school, and yes, we are smart, but we are also, excuse my language, huge assholes about both of those facts.

I think we should all take a deep breath, make a list of our most awkward moments, and realize that we’re all ridiculously awkward. In this Cornellian bubble, the small differences make a huge difference. Oh, engineers are so socially dysfunctional; pre-meds can’t stop talking about MCATs. Maybe, but weren’t you up all of last night watching Game of Thrones? Didn’t you sit in front of Olin without a shirt all of last week? Is that really any more “functional”?

We go to this school because of our dysfunction. I mean, have you ever met someone who goes to Columbia? They’re insanely put-together, guys. It’s scary. College is commonly referred to as a time to make mistakes, to get all your crazy out before having to become an adult. I’d like to propose an alternative theory: It’s a time to develop what makes you crazy, awkward, unbearable and impossible. Eat those plants in the yard, and forget about the poisonous mushrooms. Take the MCAT or don’t take the MCAT. Do what you want. Because the number one most awkward thing I’ve ever experienced is Cornell. You are all incredibly weird, sorry not sorry.

Sarah Byrne is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She be reached at [email protected]. Let It Byrne appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.