Ask a fifth-year

Drew Baumgartner

Dear Drew,
I’m already freezing, but my friends are telling me the weather’s only going to get colder. They’re just kidding, right?
-Californian Kohlerite

Dear Californian Kohlerite
I don’t know what to tell you, Californian, other than that things are going to get worse – much worse. Your friends are probably already scoffing at your aversion to cold temperatures, but they’re just acting tough. Winter weather tends to bring out a kind of one-upmanship in Midwesterners second only to pride in one’s football team.
Bitterly cold winters, while not exclusive to the Midwest, are one of those things that Midwesterners are just proud of – or at least, proud of enduring. Your Midwestern friends will tell you that they’ve seen worse, even as they pry their frozen fingers from their travel mug of coffee-cicles. They’ll tell you they’ve grown up with it, and that if you’d just toughen up, you’d be fine, too.
They’re lying.
Soon enough, you’ll experience, like all Lawrentians, having your hair freeze on the way to class, or that strange tingling feeling as circulation slowly starts to return to your hands – about 15 minutes after coming inside. Like freshman studies and loud parties next door, these are the kinds of shared adversities that make our campus whole.
Still, be prepared to freeze your butt off.
Wisconsin gets cold. And windy. One of these days, you’ll leave your front door on the way to lunch, and your eyes will attempt to jump out of your sockets to seek a warmer clime. Your lungs will prefer asphyxia to contact with the frigid air, and your skin will be so puckered with goose bumps that even class registration will seem smooth by comparison. Have you ever had a brain freeze? It’s like that, only throughout your whole body.
I’m telling you this not to scare you, but to prepare you. If you ask your Midwestern friends if you’ll need a coat, they’ll simply assure you that a stocking cap and a sweatshirt should be sufficient. Once again, they’re just lying to you. Find the biggest winter jacket you can, get yourself a good pair of boots, and learn to layer your clothes like crazy. Your friends will stop smirking at you when their faces finally thaw out.
Dear Drew,
I’m trying hard to impress my section leader in orchestra, but he seems to write me off as a “stupid freshman.” How can I show him that I’m not like all the other freshmen in the section?
-Vexed Violist

Dear Vexed Violist,
Stop trying so hard, Vexed. All freshmen are out to prove that they’re not like the other freshmen, which is precisely what makes them so irritating. Would you want to spend time with people who’re constantly trying to prove how interesting or smart or funny they are? It gets old fast, which is why many upperclassmen tend to dismiss freshmen out of hand.
I’m sure that seems unfair because you’re actually not like the other freshmen, but the only way to prove that is, paradoxically, to stop trying so hard to prove it. Just as an example, let’s look at one of the world’s coolest people: Billy Dee Williams. Could you imagine Billy Dee butting into a conversation, or telling a joke that falls flat? Obviously, if he did those things, he wouldn’t be as cool as he’s gotten by not doing those things.
Billy Dee butting into a conversation, or telling a joke that falls flat? Obviously, if he did those things, he wouldn’t be as cool as he’s gotten by not doing those things.
We can’t all be as cool as Billy Dee, but we can take a page from his book. It’s no coincidence that seniors, who typically aren’t interested in impressing freshmen, are generally perceived as cooler than the freshmen, who are constantly trying to impress everyone. Coolness is clear water, and trying to filter it just stirs up the sediment. Let it settle, and you’ll make Lando proud.
Have a question? Send it to Drew at baumgara@lawrence.edu

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