Just Give Up: Parting Words

Erin Campbell Watson

To the delight of many, I’m sure, this is my last column for The Lawrentian. It is probably my last column ever, because, honestly, would you hire me? In attempting to reflect positively on these past four years – which were of course the zenith of my entire life – I feel that it is only fair to look forward somewhat hopefully to the rest of my life. I will doubtfully ever be able to look this good or have this much fun in a town with only one real main drag, but then again, I will never have to live in a town with only one main drag.
There are many things from which I am looking forward to taking a short break. The world of the expensive, Midwestern liberal arts college is a small one, and certain annoyances have plagued my college career and made me wonder how any one of us will ever succeed at anything.
Soon, I will never have to listen to people pontificate over things that most people who are working to feed their families couldn’t give a damn about, like author’s intent and the presence of anti-feminist themes written into everything ever written ever. Maybe I’m being overly judgmental, and I am just all too eager to leave all of my failures behind. The last quarter of my academic career has proven to be just as unsuccessful as the first half, leaving only a brief, blissful ignorance in the middle, during which time I believed I was smart and good at the things I’d attempted to pursue here.
Recently, though, I came to the realization that I am indeed going to have to live with the grades I earned on the two finals I showed up to while drunk. Clearly, in the past four years, I’ve learned a lot – no one thinks you’re the cool, quirky kid when you take your finals drunk, even if they are egregiously at 6:30 p.m. Many of you will probably come to this same realization soon. You’re not really all that good at your major, and even if you are, does anyone really care that you know a lot about gender studies? If they do, then I hate them.
Hopefully, if I befriend some poor kids from state schools, I will never again have to hear about your study abroad experience. Put politely, I don’t care. I’m not impressed that everything about your time in Europe was just so much better than anything that could ever possibly be here. Guess what? I’ve been to Europe too. There are a lot of pigeons. Gross.
Spending four months in a foreign country just did not give you enough cultural insight to feel as if you truly belong there, or as if you have been bestowed with some God-given talent for universal understanding. You studied in a third-world country, which helped you see poverty in a whole new light, because we sure as hell don’t have any of that here? Good for you. Don’t misunderstand – studying abroad was great. I’m just sick of hearing about it.
Never again will I have to hear about how no one at Lawrence likes you, no one at Lawrence understands you, you could never stand to date any of the boring, awkward, ugly, nerdy [insert mildly damning adjective here] people you’ve met here – not any of the 1,400 of us! I will never have to roll my eyes as I hear people extol the charms, among them, infinite understanding, ability to perceive inner beauty, interest in indie rappers, and the “fresh” dressing of the people “in the real world.”
These next several years will serve as a test to the theory that Lawrentians neither have, nor can understand, beauty. It’s go time. If people in your “real world” don’t find you desirable, you’re just going to have to buck up and take a shower.
The bad part about this is that in the real world, I’m probably going to meet people who are pretty and funny and smart and nice. At Lawrence, it is generally fairly easy to find a combination of those two things – usually the last two. I don’t know for sure, but I’ve heard that people with all those qualities exist. I’m sure a couple of them do, and I’m sure I will hate them when I meet them, but hopefully I’ll be able to fake it long enough to make sure one will even accidentally mate with me so I can get at some of those genes for my kids.
I’m sure I will, also, have to stand in line at discount grocery stores, wondering if it will be possible to microwave my entire dinner, while concurrently wondering if the man behind me with his hand in his sweatpants just looks like a sex offender, or actually is.
I will have to deal with real bar rats, and not just Aneesh. It will not be like in Appleton, where going downtown is kind of like making a brief pilgrimage to Disney world to look at all the funny characters, and escaping back to your safe haven – the VR – when you’ve had enough.
In the real world, I’m actually going to have no other choice but to stay and drink with the other unemployed people who are interested in dollar beers and free popcorn, instead of retreating back to the VR to hang out with Aneesh.
And I leave you with that, Lawrence University – the opportunity to retreat back to the VR to hang out with Aneesh. Enjoy it while you can, because it is wonderful. As promising as the real world is, don’t ever pass up the opportunity for a little unique Lawrence charm, because, as it’s slipping away, you’re going to grab at it as fast as you can, unless you are even more heartless than I have encouraged you to be for the past year and a half.