Let’s admit it: We’re all overachievers here. We worked hard to get here, and we work hard now that we are here. I would even say that we work too hard. Rather than treat college like they do in classic movies like “Animal House” or “Van Wilder,” we schedule lunches like we’re already in the real world.
It all boils down to one question—a question that I’ve asked myself before writing every column. Why so serious? As writer Brendan Gill tells us, “Not a shred of evidence exists in favor of the idea that life is serious.”
Ask any alum about his or her Duke stories. Their experiences are nothing like ours: shooting fireworks across the quad. Burning furniture to celebrate a fraternity getting kicked off campus. Driving to UNC to pick up random girls to drive back to epic parties where nobody was yelling, “Get in rooms!” Tailgate with cars! Life just sounded more fun and less serious back then.
No, these days we’re so stressed out that we need a special branch of student health to deal with it, like The Oasis in Bell Tower, a room with massaging recliners and fish tanks in the bottom of a dorm. We’re so wound up we could really use a drink. Oh wait, that’s illegal for most of us.
Many blow off stress by going to the gym. But even in the gym people aren’t usually trying to enjoy themselves, they are just trying to reach some end of attractiveness. That’s not very relaxing.
Then we have student groups that take themselves way too seriously. First are the service organizations. I’m all about helping people, but your organization cannot save the world. Chill out and enjoy helping those people; you may learn something from them. Second are the entertainment organizations. These organizations get anxious about putting on a show, causing tension and arguments. Instead, these organizations should stop taking things too seriously and remember that they are putting on a show for students’ enjoyment. If the group is enjoying itself, the audience will enjoy the show way more. Third are semi-competitive organizations, to which I have to say, working harder won’t make you win. It will only waste more of your precious college time, causing you to lose out on way more than just a debate trophy or club sports championship. Learn the lessons the organization is trying to teach you without allowing it to take over your life.
Then there is politics. We drive each other crazy, shouting about the national hot-button issues (most of which will be embroiled in the status quo as a result of this passionate debate where both sides are so inflexible that they can’t come to a consensus). Oh, and the small fraction of the Duke population that actually cares about campus politics takes it way too seriously.
I am not against passion or hard work. We just need to realize that everything we do in college must be taken with a grain of salt; college is just one stage of our life, and an early one at that.
Duke is about preparing and learning to enter the global community and make an impact. Don’t be afraid to be young and stupid while we work towards graduation. Enjoy college, because life just might get real after we leave the Gothic Wonderland. Whatever you do, don’t ever, ever take life too seriously.
Drew Everson was a Chronicle columnist from Fall 2008 to Spring 2009. This column originally ran April 9, 2009 and was his final column for The Chronicle. We have reprinted this column on the second anniversary of Drew’s tragic passing in loving memory of his contributions to this paper and our campus.