Not to mention, once we’re hurtled into the whirlwind of college, it’s hard to even realize whether or not we’ve changed over the years. College itself feels like a long breath held in, like a pause between adolescence and adulthood. And as our youth hangs still, suspended for four hazy years, we get swept up by the motions of day-to-day college life. Our Google Calendars quickly grow populated with classes and commitments. We get lost in academic tunnel vision.
When we live with people, it’s easy to take their presence for granted. Bonding and communication are effortless. We update each other on our lives while toasting bagels for breakfast and recap the day during evening dish duty. The people we live with know about the good book we’re reading and the tooth that’s been bothering us for the past couple days. They tag along to the movie we’re seeing and show up to our hockey game because we mentioned it last week. Housemates are intimately involved in each other’s lives by association, with minimal effort from either side.
Creativity tumbled down my priority list. Was it worth it to make art when it wasn’t attached to a grade? Was it worth it to create when I knew I wasn’t destined to become a prodigy? I no longer spent my days writing or sketching or building. Slowly but surely, that glowing orb of creativity dulled.
Bzzt. The door swings open to the grinning face of your elderly neighbor and you study the wrinkles around her eyes. “Trick or Treat,” you repeat, and she gladly picks up a dish of candy. You’re dressed as a superhero, or ninja turtle, or princess or fairy tale creature, and she starts gabbing about the constellations in the sky and her astrological sign. You have to sit and listen, but all you want is for her to place the Skittles in your pillow case or plastic pumpkin so that you and your parents can run off to the next house.
Somehow, three years after I’ve come to Cornell, I am more confused than ever about what a “community” means. This is not surprising — Cornell, in many ways, has always been a congregation of pieces to me: a campus too wide to grasp, with too many people to meet and too many opportunities to seize and miss at the same time. Going into junior year, these elements seemed to come to a stagnant halt. Being an upperclassman started feeling like I’d been part of the same clubs and organizations all my college life, yet I’d established my roots too deep to find an identity anywhere else. I decided to quit Cornell’s competitive ballroom dancing team at the beginning of this semester. Or at least, take a very long break from it.
If we were all celebrities, I would probably be the washed-out, child star. Something tells me I wouldn’t be alone, either. Many of us achieved small-scale, but early eminence before enrolling at Cornell. Never basis to preen about campus, accomplished pasts may actually encumber us with misguided aspirations toward grand-scale successes. This time of year, our ambitious inclinations materialize in onerous searches for ready-to-commodify summer experiences.