I’m a senior who’s graduating in the spring and am a bit worried about how used to the Lawrence bubble I’ve become in the last few years. As much as I hate how claustrophobic it feels, I’ve also grown to really appreciate the tight-knit community we have here. It’s like 90% of my life is within a 10 minute walking distance and I’m not sure how I’ll function without it. Do you have any advice for those transitioning into the real world?
– Jigsaw Piece Falling into Place in His Fake Plastic Post-Grad Life
Lawrence University is not the real world. It’s a great school and a great environment in which to learn and grow, but it is probably not the environment you will spend the rest of your life in. Obviously, since I’m still a student here, I am by no means an expert on life beyond Lawrence, but living off campus has given me some ideas on making this transition.
Find new ways to stay in touch. One of the best things about living on a residential campus is having all of your friends within walking distance. As you and your friend-base inevitably spread across the country, you’ll need to be more organized about staying in touch. If friends are within acceptable driving distance, I highly recommend cooking parties. A special kind of bond forms between people who not only eat a meal together, but also cook said meal together.
Expect to be confronted with different opinions. Overall, I would say Lawrence is a predominantly liberal campus, and much of its student body is more progressive than the country as a whole. A number of groups at Lawrence, such as the Black Student Union, Downer Feminist Council and Gay, Lesbian, or Whatever work to promote the welfare of groups frequently marginalized by today’s society. Lawrence is by no means a utopian society where problems such as racism and sexism have disappeared, but the university works hard to create a positive environment for its students. As current political events have shown us, this is not the case in all parts of the country. Many people still do not understand the concepts of safe spaces or trigger warnings. That being said, it is important to …
Be true to yourself. The more strength and conviction you have in your own views and your own personhood, the stronger you will be as an individual. As I said above, it is likely you will face harsh criticism as you go forward. You may find yourself in arguments with peers whose views belittle experiences you have had in your life. As Mufasa told Simba in “The Lion King,” remember who you are. Confidence and inner strength won’t necessarily solve all of the world’s problems, but it will make your personal experience more enjoyable.
Lawrence is a sheltered environment. Many of us choose to come here because we hope to surround ourselves with people who think and act similarly to us. As you go forward and emerge from this protective bubble, you will likely face opposition, but you should always remember the connections you made here.