Ok, so you were abroad last semester, and you’re a little confused. It’s not that you weren’t excited to come back — in fact, you couldn’t wait to eat your first spicy with in over half a year and hug it out with friends who understand lingo like “You do you” and “OMAC.” It’s just that things seem different. When you had your first “spicy with” of the semester, your stomach was NOT happy afterwards — devastatingly, you’d lost your immunity to Jo’s food. Worse, you feel disconnected from some of your friends, and hardly anyone says “You do you” anymore. You can’t help but feel like Charlie Brown moping around and asking questions about everything that feels different, weird, and new.
But the worst thing of all, the biggest challenge you’ve faced, came at you when you braved the deep dark depths of the Ratty. You were at a little joint called the Ivy Room for a late-night smoothie, and what happened when you went to put the straw in the cup? It bounced right back at you. The caps don’t have holes. What kind of sick person planned that?
Wait a minute. This Ivy Room debacle has nothing to do with your time abroad. Your friend is also horrified by it, and she was here last semester. Maybe you’re not so alone after all. Let’s face it: this concern with belonging to a community is pretty much universal, and it’s something you’ve been dealing with since middle school, when Lucinda wouldn’t let you sit at her lunch table. It’s something pretty much all of us have dealt with at some point. And a big part of belonging, of the Brown identity, seems to be related to contentedness in being here. If you’re at Brown but you don’t feel as content as everyone else in being at Brown, you might feel alienated. Then you get to those questions bigger than “Why don’t the caps have holes?” You ask, “Why isn’t everything fitting just right? Why don’t I fit just right? Why can’t I achieve the ultimate mellow of those people playing Frisbee on the quad?”