Things get a little tougher, though, when we apply the same strategy to our real-life Taboos: things that are difficult to talk about because society deems them unsettling, controversial or potentially divisive. We have a lot of these at Stanford: race and affirmative action, multiculturalism, religious faith, political beliefs and sexual orientation prominent among them. And just like in the board game, there are a lot of words and concepts we can’t use, for various reasons, when talking about them.
The green numbers of my alarm clock read 7:00 a.m. Despite having been home for a couple of months, I still took several seconds to comprehend that the clock was telling the truth. What happened to rolling out of bed just in time for 11:00 classes?
On my desk, beside stacks of books and pencils, sits a small piece of paper with a quote written on it. It says: “Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost.” It’s from Henry James, and I first stumbled across it in a creative writing class a few quarters ago. I took it as good advice then, but occasionally while working I’ll glance up and see it and a heart-thudding question will flash across my mind: as I progress through life, how many details are being lost on me?
People on campus are quick to say they want to leave the Stanford bubble, but I don’t think putting geographic distance between yourself and campus is going to necessarily work. I’ve never felt as detached from campus as I do when at the zoo, and the PAJMZ is a mere nine blocks off campus. There are groups that venture further for service based goals and still drag the bubble with them. What about those that don’t necessarily have a passion for the topics targeted by the group, but are looking for a way to escape campus living? Really, unless you distance yourself from the remnants of the Farm, you aren’t doing much except toting the pressures of Stanford living around with you.
So, the interesting thing about having a column is that it puts me into a very public sphere. As someone who considers himself an introvert, this presents a couple of issues: (1) being misunderstood and not having the chance to clarify others’ misconceptions, even if I what I wrote makes sense to me; and (2), more problematically, that there is only so much I feel comfortable revealing about myself in this setting — what I say in my column is very different than what I write in my journal.