The beauty of Stanford campus is astounding. Everything about the physical space at Stanford suggests resort living: the weather, the colonnades, the palm trees. It feels like a happy campus overall. People look healthy, students are smiling.
When I entered Stanford, I saw the pretty people and the cheery fountains and made an arrangement with myself that as long as I was a Stanford student, I would have to be happy. It was going to be the best time of my life whether I liked it or not. For the most part I am happy at Stanford. But sometimes having a bad time feels taboo. I sensed this the most when I decided to leave after freshman year. At the time I didn’t know if I would be coming back, and some of my peers were offended that I would have the audacity to leave. I was surprised by the feeling that I couldn’t talk about the parts of Stanford that aren’t ideal. You just don’t bring those things up.
I grew up in a city where you come into contact with ugliness every day, and San Francisco is beautiful because of, not despite, its ugly components. There is a special camaraderie fostered by coming into contact with the same ugliness or inconvenience as your neighbors. What’s more, when you live in a world that is less than perfect on the outside, there seems to be less stigma about blemishing that world with the imperfection you feel on the inside. And when you sit in a puddle of mystery fluid on the bus, the homeless man sitting across from you is a good reminder that you should take your woes with a grain of salt. I feel indecently lucky that I get to spend three more years living on a campus as beautiful as Stanford’s. I’m still concerned with the stigma around unhappiness, and I don’t know what the solution is. Mostly I miss the feeling of being a city kid. There is something to be said for sitting in mystery fluid on the bus.
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