But today, the beginning of my last quarter here begins, commencement beckons and much of what I used to want from college and beyond seems like someone else’s dream. Somehow, my existence at this school and my picture of the future seems…different. For a while, though, I couldn’t figure out why.
With that, ladies and gentlemen, I now transform this little newspaper section into a strategic soapbox about the following three movies, among those I keep watching over and over again. (And in so doing, possibly subject myself to the familiar criticism: “You like that movie?”) My unabashed objective here, of course, is to persuade you to see them all. Here goes…
The rules under which I lived during most of sophomore year are called, in social and clinical terms, an “eating disorder.” It’s a jarring convergence of terms. Even stranger is the fact that the girl writing those rules was me.
Very early in life, we started learning phrases like “Be positive” or “Look on the bright side.” But these isolated statements, in their Copperplate Gothic font underneath classroom pictures of foggy mountains, fast became trite. They are short and sweet, and they come out of emotional context, which makes them unpersuasive.
All I could think was how while I sometimes convince myself that life is excruciatingly dramatic, I forget how it can be so timelessly simple.
Fumbling over words is, generally, not enjoyable. At a place like Stanford, where rhetoric skills are acknowledged as necessary and thus require two quarters of training, most of us take for granted that smooth speech equates with intelligence. We are aware that being able to explain something well often means knowing it well, too.
Last Wednesday, I attended the first week’s meeting of my history class discussion section. We started our 50 minutes with an innocent icebreaker, in which every student went up to the chalkboard, said their name and then wrote it down where their birthplace might be if the board were actually a map, albeit blank and borderless. We were supposed to reference where the students before us had placed their names and estimate where our own belonged.
Sometimes, all we want in the world from another person is a nod — reassurance that we aren’t alone. Sometimes, we just want our thoughts received, acknowledged and echoed back to us like they make sense and, yes, it’s okay. Normal. You’re fine. I understand. For as much as communication is about conveying information, it’s about confirming what we already think. This might explain our impulse to latch onto, in first encounters, “ME too!!!” or “I know, right?!” like conversational lifeboats. It’s that initial connection we constantly seek, even if we’re only at shallow shores of acquaintance.