Lucy van Pelt incarnate at Brown University.
Lucy van Pelt incarnate at Brown University.
wow that escalated quickly, much personal. Brown University Confessions has some interesting answers to the first. As for the second, I’ll leave that up to your imagination.
more like proFRESHIONAL AMIRITE????? ? ? ? ??
hell yeh. sellin my soul to big pharma fresh afff
Thank you for leaving this in my inbox, Anonymous. I love hearing other people’s thoughts. This post turned out to be a lot longer than I expected but I hope you will enjoy reading my thoughts as much as I enjoyed reading yours! (Original post here.)
DISCLAIMER: I’m not saying that I agree with what I have written in that these aren’t really my personal beliefs. However, this is a (hopefully) logical deconstruction of a commonly held viewpoint.
Let’s talk through your argument, point by point:
1. “[Intelligence/personality] is all we are really left with if everything else were to be taken away from us.”
I think what you mean is the following statement: “If all physical possessions (i.e., money) and features that erode with the passing of time (i.e, physical appearance), we would only be left with our intelligence and personality.” I also assume you are arguing for this point excluding situations where intelligence and personality may erode (i.e., old person that is senile).
If that is the case, I agree with your statement, but I also think that your statement doesn’t cover all the bases. If we take away all physical possessions and features that erode with the passing of time, we’d still be left with a lot of basic characteristics that aren’t (very) meaningful in a romantic relationship such as blood type, birth date, city in which you were born, and what elementary school you went to. It seems ridiculous to me to say that you like another person because his/her blood type is O+ and was born on November 23rd, 1992.
How would you define intelligence and personality be different from these miscellaneous traits?
2. “They show our true colors, when we have nothing else to rely or depend on like money or beauty.“
What do you mean by “true colors”? Is it a more colorful way to say “true personality”? If so, I disagree because how can personality be false?
Let’s try an example: A man schemes to have a rich woman fall in love with him through his charms and personality. They get married, but through some stroke of fate, the woman loses all her money, and the man leaves her because he only loved her to get her money. You can argue that in this case, the woman learned of the man’s “true” personality after losing all her money. However, it’s only her judgment of the man that is proved wrong. The man didn’t suddenly change from a false personality to a true personality when she lost her money; he was always conniving, selfish, and materialistic. However, this is more of a semantic issue. While I’m defining personality as more of a inner persona that is known by the person him/herself, you are defining personality as the persona you portray to the outside world.
I believe that the man in this example has conditional love: “If she has money, then I love her.” But what bothers me is that this seems hardly different from “If we have intelligent conversations because she is intelligent, then I love her” or “If she is nice, then I love her.” You see many marriages that don’t work out because people find that their partners are not as nice as they thought they were, but these failures in the realm of love and relationships don’t have the same stigma as marriages that fall apart due to money issues. (Note: I fall back on marriages, but of course, this can be applied to romantic relationships in general.)
3. “Money or beauty is almost given to us by luck.”
Most people have to work for their money. While luck does play a part in becoming insanely rich, becoming wealthy is much more dependent on your attitude and decisions.
Beauty, on the other hand, is a completely different story. For better or worse, (again, ignoring cases of cosmetic surgery) we are usually stuck with how we look.
We are, in a sense, “given” our beauty (or lack thereof). But we are also “given” our childhoods. We usually have no control over our childhood experiences as it is our parents who dictate those early years, just as their genes dictate what we look like. Thus, is it also “bad” to like someone because he/she share similar childhood experiences? It seems to be more acceptable to date someone who comes from a similar background than to date someone because he/she is beautiful. But why is that?
4. “Intelligence/personality is less of something that we can works towards attaining, they are not as measurable.”
Yes, personality is less measurable than beauty, but what about intelligence? I would argue that intelligence, if anything, if much easier to measure. Beauty is subjective, and intelligence, while not totally objective, is definitely more objective than attractiveness. There are IQ tests for intelligence but no similar objective scale for beauty.
5. “They can wither, but are generally longer lasting and what is genuine about us.”
How can thoughts and our personality last longer than physical features about ourselves such as our appearance? A woman who is raped by a man may change her viewpoint on men overnight, but she will still look the same. When we think about our appearance changing, it could be sudden (due to plastic surgery, unfortunate accident, etc.), but it could also be gradual (over the course of a lifetime).
On the other hand, while changes in personality are often gradual (minus cases like the one above on rape), the time frame is often shorter. I feel like my personality has changed quite a bit over the past 5 years, but my appearance has stayed relatively the same. My friends from college who look at photos of me from 8th grade still recognize me in the pictures, and my friends from 8th grade still recognize me in my pictures from now.
And again, I think features like blood type are most genuine in the sense that they stay with us the longest, but these almost never come up in the list of reasons why we like another person.
A friend of mine wrote this for a campus publication and her thoughts sound awfully like my own—struggling with the impending gloom of reality, responsibility, and adulthood, and trying to figure out what it is that makes me different from others (and realizing it’s not much at all).
Mediocre. What a fabulous word for a dismal thought. When I first heard the word, I always confused it with meteor. Meteor showers. Mediocre showers. Mediocre showers killed the dinosaurs: a sentence I wrote on a fourth-grade vocabulary test. Not satisfactory: my teacher’s response, etched red in spindly cursive. Blissfully ignorant that my answer was wrong, I assumed instead that Ms. Feinn’s edits pointed out a lack of creativity in my sentence.
Now I imagine a moist clump of dead stegosauruses, their bony plates and spiked tails peeking out of mounds of stainless steel—clobbered to death with defective showerheads.
I know most people in this world are mediocre: ordinary, run-of-the-mill, neither good nor bad, pedestrian, everyday, adequate. I know, objectively, that I am, too. Because if everyone is special then no one is special. I know that not everyone is brilliant, and not everyone will change the world. I know that all of us will live and die and be consumed either by fire or maggots just like everything else. But I can’t help but wish it were different.
Everyone says my generation—made up of the “special snowflakes” born in the early to mid-90s—is more narcissistic than the generation before, more than any generation, really. People call us entitled, overconfident, delusional. We are all so sure of our specialness and so jarred by denial.
I read somewhere that youth self-esteem, which has been rising since the 70s, has skyrocketed so high that social scientists need to devise new systems of measurement. We’re literally off the charts. The Greeks even had a word for it: thumos, lust for recognition. We all want to matter, but not everyone can. We want to be a snowflake distinct among snowflakes. In elementary school, they told us we were pluripotent. Yes, we could be astronauts! Yes, we could be poets! The world was ripe and low-hanging and ready for the plucking.
But now it’s the season of schaudenfreude, when everyone is returning from a summer of saving lepers in India and getting published in magazines, and now they’re telling me all about it. We hug and you beam and I smile and I congratulate you because how could I not? Especially when I spent my summer replacing hyphens with em dashes and scrolling through stock images of Hillary Clinton. I can’t stop thinking about the moment I met Sarah, the only other intern: We shook hands and laughed about the fact that we were both half-Asian and would both marry Ira Glass and were both wearing jean jackets and platform sandals and wanted to be writers and knew at that moment that we were exactly the same. So we both started answering to either Sarah or Sabrina because the office couldn’t tell us apart, and what was the point when we would be replaced in just three months? When I think about all the hundreds of other Sarahs and Sabrinas out there, it makes me want to vomit. It’s hard, so hard, to believe in myself now. When I could have been an astronaut!
I guess it all comes down to the fact that I’m terrified. Of my future, of who I will be—if anybody at all. It’s a selfish fear, but one that still gnaws at me. Because all this time, I nurture this notion that murmurs within me like a heartbeat, assuring me that I’m special. That I’ll write for The New Yorker or save the pandas. But now I’m twenty and this pipe dream of a lifeline is floating farther and farther away from what I know to be true. And I’m scared.
Last week, feeling lost and negligible, I rediscovered my high school graduation speech. It teems with everything one would expect: extended Shel Silverstein metaphors, situational humor about sporting stilettos on Astroturf, and one “fastest sperm” joke that I added in at the last minute just because they couldn’t stop me. I see the 18-year-old me trying so hard to sound wise beyond her years, and it makes me blush.
Graduation speeches are beautiful, often unoriginal oxymorons. They say, in various permutations, that we are all special. Even the witty ones that begin with “You are not special” all come to some clever, engineered twist that claims you actually are. Thousands and thousands of seniors claiming that they and their entire class are special and unlimited.
But beneath all the fluff, I see something earnest in what 18-year-old me and the 3.2 million other seniors graduating that year wanted to say: the idea that, in a sea of seven billion people, you can be exceptional in one way or another. Because there is something so throbbing and true to feel behind you a crowd of caps and gowns bristling with potential—to scream with them and stomp your feet and believe that you are infinite.
The summer after high school, a few days before starting the rest of our lives, my friends and I hiked up a mountain to watch the Perseid meteor shower, a shower that comes each year in late summer. We lay beside each other in the patchy chaparral, our heads together and legs splayed outward like some many-armed sea star.
I read somewhere that humans have observed the Perseids for thousands of years. The shower comes each year in the late summer: When the Earth ventures into a trail of dust and ice, debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle explodes into our atmosphere and burns up and scatters like fiery shrapnel from the cosmos. It is easy to forget we are all stardust. Tigers and chandeliers and X-ray machines all came from one supernova. Our wrinkled elbows and our eyelashes and the private hollows of our necks all came from one star. And us, our soft bodies nestled in the weeds—living and dying under the great black sky that wasn’t all black but shimmered with lacy ribbons of stars and the neon lights of airplanes and fireflies that throbbed thousands of miles away and stars that wax and wane and constellations I couldn’t recognize if I tried.