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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Little Shapiro, Big World

Ariel reflects on how Madison changed her

Hey gang! Wasn’t Mifflin rad? I bet we all did totally awesome things that were original and hilarious that we can’t really remember cause we drank SO MUCH, amiright? Except I, ever your faithful columnist, did not make it to Mifflin this year. I could pretend that I was swayed by the wise words of Lori  Berquam, or that I decided that Mifflin is sophomoric or that I was busy seeing a band you never heard of because they are still underground or whatever, but alas, I would be untruthful. Nope, I didn’t make it to Mifflin because of freaking Lyme Disease.


For those of you who are unaware, Lyme comes from deer ticks and messes up your joints and general happiness. I went to UHS with a messed up knee and a 103 degree fever and assured I had mono because I am a debaucherous youth. Because that diagnosis made no sense, I went to a real doctor who happily told me my overbearing mom was actually right this time: I probably had Lyme. The thing about sitting around for a week aching and feverish is that you stop caring about the bullshit you usually put up with. Like, you know, class or showering.


You (read: I) also start to lose your filter or desire to be polite. Like when I get a text from a gal pal about the guy she is totally crushing on and omigod he didn’t call her, what is she going to do? DELETE. Or when I was on my rare walk to Walgreens to restock on pills and a stumbling drunk girl knocks into you because “it’s almost Mifflin,” and she is this close to ralphing? WATCH IT, PUNK. Or being approached by some poor guy campaigning for a Republican who will never have a chance in hell in this congressional district? TAMMY’S THE BEST! SCREW YOU, BRAAA.


Then I come to the realization that I am simply reverting back to my natural Westchester state, i.e. being a major bitch. There it is the norm. Everyone is a bitch! That is why I was so nervous my first few months in the dorms at UW: I felt like I could not communicate with my kind, sincere hallmates who just wanted to show me the ways of cheese curds, Packers and all else holy in Wisconsin. Eventually I learned how to say something nice without it sounding sarcastic and venomous. I also figured out the whole pleasantries thing needed for the polite conversation I rarely encountered back home.  Most importantly, I tried to let go of my ingrained angst and adopt a more Midwestern way of being, albeit with mixed results.


I hate to make broad declarations about humanity; it is cliché and sounds oh-so Carrie Bradshaw, who I find repugnant, but you only get one last column, so here it goes: A place can change you. Madison has certainly done this for me. Although it will always be my home, Westchester brings out my worst and perhaps the worst of people at large. Madison, however, is a place overflowing with interesting people, culture, political activity, nature and yeah, hedonism. This school, for all of its flaws, creates a constructive environment where exchange of ideas is held higher than competition. It would be utopia if it was not for the cold.


When most people talk about the prospect of going out into the real world, they talk about how big and scary it is. As I prepare to move to Washington, D.C., in June, I do not fear the largeness. I am not even all that worried about the pressures of real life, though I still have yet to get a handle on the whole “laundry” phenomenon. My real fear is that wherever I go, I will never find what I found here. This community, this exchange of minds and, most importantly (to me, anyway), this version of myself. It is one thing to plan a career and to create a life map, but there is no way to know what I, or any of you for that matter, will be like years down the road. Will I look back on myself with the same shame I do on my high-school self? My best guess is probably not, and I credit that all to this city and campus.


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Say bye to Ariel at @arshapiro90.

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