Transitions are not always noticeable and drastic
Old Gold & Black
Staff Columnist
Thursday, November 3, 2016

The lilt of life through the lens of a college student is something of an optimistic whirlwind, a tilt-a-whirl minus (or plus) the projectile upchuck.

Socially, we are all thrown into a sphere utterly unlike anything before; it is a fluid, boundary-less sort of plasm that permits all the demonstrative deviation from the mean one could want.

That is, if one so chooses. In the classroom, things go from “the reading is optional,” to “the reading really isn’t optional, and the portion size is tripled.” It’s not short assessments daily, but bigger, broader exams that count for a larger portion of one’s grade.

Emotional mutations, too, are a big part of college; this is a more mature approach, a collaborative sameness as opposed to the structured hierarchy of high-school nonsense. Every student is presented with the existential mantra: you’re all adults. Do with that what you will.

But college, for me, has become a sort of experiment in optimism, a peripatetic frenzy of sloshing mixtures and occasional reflection. I find there’s two images that make up the college ego: the mind in a constant multiplicity of blooms, like a time lapse of a dark city that progressively turns its lights on and the mind drawn and quartered, each cerebral limb yanked in four different directions by taut, muscular forces.

Before arriving at college, I thought of it as a beautiful experiment in intellectualism, an ethereal trial and error that ends in an eventual polished product. And I thought I would be conscious of this all happening. And sometimes I am. But it seems that the huge “adjustment” I am supposed to be making is just happening with a slippery quickness not unlike how Jell-O immediately takes the form of the cup it’s in. It’s like I’m hitting all these watermarks, these massive, movie-ish events like moving in, living on my own, making friends, etc., and instead of what happens in film, where some throaty piano man sings a ballad about the locus of my internal progress, things seem like they’re, for lack of a better term, just going.

There isn’t a big, emotive gush every time I hear a prominent politico speak, no profound brain flare every time I read the entirety of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in a night. There’s some of that when I reflect and write such self-aware pieces like this (which speaks to why writing is so important), but on the whole, it’s depressingly normative.

But there are nights, joyous and boisterously proud nights, where I’m walking out of the library at some bleary-eyed hour, headphones in, and my stride is injected with glabrous silkiness that makes my entirety act like an undulating saunter.

I become some paragon of collegiate optimism, where I take in everything that I haven’t catalogued as momentous, look around me at a campus that is of inviolate beauty and smile an archaic, sly smile that somehow briefly serves as a recompense for everything I let, or more so could not prevent, from crashing over me.

My message is this: look where you are, where you live and by what boundless means your mind is cultured, by how exceedingly luminous everything you do here is, for yourself and for clicking the world one (sometimes quixotic) notch forward.

This is not meant as a boilerplate exhortation on how lucky we all are; it is but an ode to furthering the practice of thinking, to lauding the sheer cognitive spark we provide ourselves with every day through our rigorous self-growth. Look at yourself; smile. You’re doing it.