Cut to the Dickson laundry room, last night. The last time I did my laundry was Spring Break, and I honestly wouldn’t be doing it now if the pants I wear everyday hadn’t gotten soaked at Slope Day. After transferring $2 into my laundry account, I put my clothes and sheets in the dryer and walk to Appel in pajamas, an old church camp shirt, and no underwear. I log on to one of the computers there because my laptop broke last week and I’ll have to wait until I get home to fix it, and I get to work. After staying there for a few hours – only taking a break to watch the season finale of Atlanta on my girlfriend’s roommate’s brother’s account – I walk back, listening to my sister’s Spotify. I check the dryers to find that they once again failed to sufficiently dry my shit, which I can’t do anything about until I put more money in my laundry account. I check my bank account – $0.20 in my checking and $0.06 in my savings (because, ya know, I’m thinking about the long term too) – and I just give up. I pull out the driest pair of underwear I can find and I try to fall asleep in my roommate’s bed, figuring I can worry about all of this in the morning.
Lying there, a hundred different thoughts invaded me at once. How could I in the same moment be so blessed and so damn broke? What good are all the resources and opportunities I have been given if I have to wait four more years to start using them? Do the kids back home, the same ones whose parents probably buy the same amount in alcohol as Cornell charges me for tuition, now view me as the elitist prick? Is this adulting?
Now I wouldn’t be so foolish as to use the term “adulting” seriously, but it’s worth examining whether or not college life actually constitutes adulthood. I’m living on my own for the first time – a thousand miles away from my parents – and it could be argued that college is my job (and that doing ROTC, writing for the sun, and giving my girlfriend the attention she deserves are my second job, side hustle, and hobby, respectively). Yet much about my life here still feels patronizing, from being forced by Cornell to buy their housing and meal plans, to having to ask my parents or wait for my ROTC stipend if I need money. Perhaps you believe that college is special for the way it eases us into adulthood…but isn’t that why adolescence emerged?
Anyway, what I’m saying is that this conflict between freedom and dependency often results in a surreal set of experiences – what I like to call “studenting,”
Studenting (n.) – the act of navigating a privileged, intellectual environment with insufficient resources and experiences.
I don’t want it to seem like I’ve got it hard (that’s why I named dropped Atlanta earlier, because I’m socially aware or whatever), it’s just that the situations I get into here are a bit ridiculous when I take a step back and think about them. So if you’re still wondering what I mean by “studenting,” here are some examples from just this week:
- It’s everything I mentioned at the start of this.
- It’s going to RPCC brunch wearing an Alpha Chi Omega sweatshirt, no undershirt, my roommate’s sweatpants, and shoes with no socks.
- It’s trying to get a free coffee out of pity at CTB.
- It’s having three different emails so I can get three free trials.
- It’s getting to the cafeteria at 10 for breakfast and staying til 1 for lunch
- It’s seeing how many times I can use the “look Jabba I’ve got your money” quote before my friends actually get mad that I haven’t venmoed them back.
- It’s pretending to be interested in buying a Hawaiian pizza at Casablaca just so I can use their bathroom.
- It’s having money…with strings attached.