This past weekend I spent hours having fun. Not only was I having good time, but also over 300 students were in the same building having fun with me. Interestingly, there was no DJ, no food, nor were there any beverages. Saturday night you didn’t hear anybody blaming it on “the goose that had them feeling loose”; you heard them blaming it on Marx and Hegel. I know you’re probably thinking that we are a weird bunch of people. That is a fair assumption. However, we weren’t discussing Communism and the dialectic at a frat party. Our party was in the infamous A-level of the Regenstein Library.
During finals week at the University of Chicago you will find more students drinking red bull to stay awake than drinking beer. You will also find more kids with blood shot eyes because of a long night of studying, not partying. You are probably wondering why I actually think spending my Saturday night in the library is fun. One simple reason: I’m a nerd. There I said it.
No, no, no. I already see you judging me. I’m not the socially awkward, pocket protector-wearing guy who never sees the light of day because he’s drowning in a sea of physics problems. For the most part, I’m just a typical college student that works hard during the week and usually goes out on the weekends. I enjoy dancing and attending social events. However, I also love learning. I’m fully aware that a lot of learning takes place outside of the ivory tower. Yet, I’m also fully aware that many of the things that I have learned in the ivory tower have expanded my horizons.
I attend a school where students endlessly complain about how much work they have, but secretly enjoy the pressure of writing a ten page paper two hours before it’s due. I attend a school where kids take self-deprecating to another level. I attend a school where students get a kick out saying that they have more work than the next person. That’s right, I attend the University of Chicago. I am a proud Maroon! As a student at the University of Chicago we are told to embrace “the life of the mind”. For many people that means asking “big” questions. For others it means building a nuclear reactor in their dormitory. For most of us, it simply means being exposed to the classical liberal arts education a.ka. the core.
My freshman year I tried to deny the fact that my school was different. I told prospective students that we are not that much different from other research institutions, we just study a little bit more. That couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Most students here are quirkier than the student who was voted “Most Individual” at your high school. This is not something we should shy away from, but rather we should embrace the very peculiar U of C culture. Simply put, it makes us who we are. But what also makes us special is that we are all different and bring our own idiosyncrasies to the table.
Although this post has basically been an ode to the University of Chicago, this was more so about embracing individuality and accepting who you really are. Don’t let anyone tell you that staying up late to read Ralph Waldo Emerson is lame. Don’t let anyone tell you that going to the museum instead of the step show is stupid. Just do what you do, and those who love you will continue to love you for who you are.