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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Dyeing to live through a hectic week

I really just wanted someone to stick me with about a billion needles full of ink. A large, menacing skull and crossbones tattoo on my left bicep-a physical sign of the massive, made-for-TV-movie-esque changes in my life. 

 

 

 

Of course, my roommates without holes in their bodies or ink under their skin convinced me to pour toxic chemicals on my head instead. For dyeing one's hair is a more socially acceptable and less permanent way to say \World, it's been a crazy few days."" 

 

 

 

In the past week, I've quit a job, gone through a breakup, resurrected a shattered friendship, planned a summer abroad, hung out with new people and traded up my blondeness. 

 

 

 

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In a book, this is called the ongoing journey to self-discovery. 

 

 

 

In life, it's called a full-on identity crisis. 

 

 

 

If I were Huck Finn, this would be all right. From the cavernous bars of State Street to the rugged waters of Lake Mendota, the world would be a plethora of opportunities for change. Each environment would encourage me to learn what I want and enjoy. Life lessons would be as abundant as tipped, neglected mopeds and tiny revelations would flow like Coors Light from a freshly tapped keg at a Sunday morning afterbar. 

 

 

 

But beyond the yellowed pages of Huck Finn's and Holden Caulfield's celebrated adventures, it appears not much else in our university town welcomes learning about ourselves. Instead, every time we question our beliefs, our major, our interests, career path, friends, lovers, etc., it's as if we're taking a giant step backward. Curiosity translates to erratic behavior and uncertainty means mental instability. 

 

 

 

Everyone knows that grown-ups have it rough. In a system where maintaining an image of ""togetherness"" is more valuable than insight or intelligence, it's hard for many adults to adjust their perceptions, no matter how much they want to. 

 

 

 

But for us kids, adjusting our perceptions shouldn't be so tough. What better place for idealism and exhilarating discoveries than a college campus, right? 

 

 

 

But as I climb Bascom Hill, wading through the sniffling symphony of shuffling, droopy peers, I glance up at our university's giant overseer and finally realize what statue Abe Lincoln would say if his bronze lips could speak: ""Figure out who you are as fast as you can so that you can profit from it as soon as you can. And lay off the pizza, eh?"" 

 

 

 

Thanks, Abe. 

 

 

 

It appears even in college, stripping down your life and repainting it more appropriately warrants disapproval from teachers, friends and most importantly, an invisible yet unrelenting system that preaches a rat-race mentality. 

 

 

 

It's not UW's fault, though. The UW is just part of a worldwide education system that doesn't actually value education. This sad fact means a few things: We must work outside the system to find happiness, and we get to say fantastically clich?? phrases like ""'F' the system"" and ""the system has failed me"" and legitimately mean them. 

 

 

 

For me, a box of ""cinnamon chocolate brown"" hair dye may not have been the wisest way to work outside the system. To be honest, it was a borderline disaster. 

 

 

 

But at this point, I'm up for anything. And it feels damn good. 

 

 

 

ewinter@wisc.edu

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