Smells like Adult Spirit
January 1, 2012 9:47 AM Subscribe
Agitated at being at my small liberal arts college. Not sure how much is me, how much is college, how much is the "real world". Please give it to me bluntly.
posted by neil pierce to Human Relations (76 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I am obsessed with the idea of political correctness. I have a hard time trusting that people are telling me the truth. I resent being winked and nudged into believing certain things and I feel pressured to act a way that I don't understand at all.
I went to a very good high school. People were pretty plugged into internet culture, so there was a lot of "trolling". People would say racist, homophobic, and misogynistic things in jest. It was like playacting, a kind of pretending to be racist that makes fun of both racists and those who are literal-thinking enough to not see that it is playacting. I liked it. It was liberal in the best way.
I decided to go to a liberal arts college because I wanted to be different than my friends. Their moves -- state schools, ivies, etc -- all felt very much a part of the blueprint of being at this high school, and I thought that there was more good to be done than that. So I went to a small liberal arts college. The college is prestigious with a reputation for smartness and ethics. Those sounded like good things to me, but little did I know.
I can't even talk about this with anyone from the college. It's ridiculous how invasive the college's culture of total identity politics is to my personal relations and my life. Maybe it's because the mission statement promises a total, transformative ethical experience, but nearly every aspect of myself is game for these people to subtly pressure. People are also unwilling to say anything that reflects badly on themselves, so they never purge themselves of actually being homophobic or anything. They instead develop sophisticated defense mechanisms to hide it in themselves. The unspoken motto is: You Arrived at College Perfect.
I am afraid of being seen as privileged and elitist for saying these things. My old bantering ways -- was that a manifestation of privilege too? And privilege, isn't it good for me to have it, so long as I use it well?
The net effect of this insecurity about my identity is I have fallen back on my physical past -- the diplomas, hometowns, etc that I have been trying to escape. In other words, I have become more elitist, and I feel like everyone at the college is complacent with this as well. Everyone is so defeated -- they have all regressed to their most fortified personalities.
I should mention that I thought I was good with people. I loved talking to strangers, and I used to think that I was a fun conversationalist who could keep even my awkward friends engaged. Now I can't hold my end in a conversation. I have long silences, make weird eye contact, and feel all-around agitated.
Is this a "poisonous" place? Can an entire place be "poisonous" like that? I want to transfer, but I don't want to fall into a similar situation.