When I first came to UW-Madison, I kind of had the habit of bragging to my friends who attend smaller schools about the benefits of going to a big school.
“Dude, in a school of 40,000 kids, I could streak, join the juggling club and bring a rancid garlic-onion-chicken medley to the library all in one day without ruining my reputation as a normal human being,” I would tell them. “If something goes wrong with my current group of college friends, I can discard them and find a batch of new ones. And what if I have an awkward hookup over the weekend? No worries, I’ll never see them again! Did I mention the 47 student organizations I’ll be joining, and the thousands of friends I’ll be saying hi to on the street each day?”
This, of course, was before I discovered a series of hard truths about big schools; one of which was my hidden talent, a phenomenon I like to call “supreme facial recognition.” It’s a blessing and a curse. A blessing because, although I may not remember your name, I will remember meeting you for those three drunken seconds at a football pregame and will give you a friendly greeting if I ever see you again. It’s a curse because chances are, you don’t remember me and I’m going to be the one doing the awkward half hand raise and, “Hey what’s u—” to a person looking straight past me. Sadly, in the latter situation most of the time the person probably remembers me but just chooses not to acknowledge this.
I also experienced some struggles when it came to campus involvement. Let’s assess the whole “I’m gonna join every club and become an active member of the college community” fantasy. It ended the second I walked into the Kohl Center for the student-org fair. I’ve never experienced such sensory overload in my entire life. One moment I’m signing up for some obscure charity club like “Help Stop Animal Hoarding in Nepal,” and two seconds later I’m being tug-of-warred between two different Jewish orgs trying to get me to go on birthright. After two hours, I’d signed up for 31 clubs, including the Cheese Club, which works out really well with my lactose intolerance. After sorting through billions of emails over the next week, I decided to give two clubs a chance: WUD Film and Hoofers.
At the WUD Film meeting, I felt, metaphorically speaking, like the one person who shows up to the Halloween party without a costume. Or, to be more literal, the only one who hadn’t seen the weird-ass Jeff Goldblum cult film from the ’80s. I was not eccentric or cultured enough, so I parted ways.
Disclaimer: Make sure that if you join Hoofers outdoors club you’re not doing it solely to make friends; you actually have to enjoy doing outdoorsy athletic things. And you shouldn’t sign up for indoor rock climbing like I did. I ended up almost killing a very nice med school resident that I was belaying and left with a cable burn a Mt. Everest climber couldn’t beat.
Oh, and that whole thing about never having to see an awkward hookup again? I needed to bite my tongue on that one. Surprisingly, on occasion my interactions with guys go beyond asking them what the homework is. One instance resulted in me feeling the need to avoid this person probably for as long as humanly possible. After never having seen him in the daylight before (was I sure he wasn’t a vampire?), the next day I saw him twice within a five-hour period on the same street. I guess this school has turned my life into a sitcom.
When it comes to my closest friends, they’re really awesome, but I think the only reason we’re still friends is that we live together so they physically can’t get rid of me. After some of the embarrassing shit I’ve done in front of them, the idea of finding people to start fresh with so I can discard my shame has absolutely crossed my mind. Obviously, I am too lazy to do this, so I’ll just wade in my pool of shame for now.
Go Big Ten!
Do you also experience supreme facial recognition? Tell Daniella about it at firstname.lastname@example.org. ... Unless she’s avoiding you.