This September marks the beginning of my fourth year at Yale. The fact that I will soon leave Yale has compelled me to examine and write out some of my thoughts, for they are particular to this time of my life and writing them down distills the moment. They may seem random from point to point because the mind does not work according to the structure of a treatise, and I wish to remain truthful to mine.
I have made relatively few friends at Yale. Why? Well, that’s the question I would ask myself whenever I feel like a wallflower. Someone once said to me: “Teresa, you are always looking for people to impress you. You want them to say things that you have not heard before, and when they don’t, you are disappointed and annoyed.”
Forget about the impressing part. I am not looking for people to speak about things that I do not understand, but I am very particular about the quality of conversations that I have with others. Different people are particular about different things. My personality happened to make me like what the majority at Yale is not too passionate about and hate what the majority finds acceptable.
For example, I enjoy solidarity, but I cannot stand conversations without real substance. That’s not to say I need to talk philosophy every day during lunch; I can also chat about whole milk vs. skim milk and have a fun time being mundane. What I am tired of is people talking when they have nothing to say. It is like a syndrome or something; because we are Yalies, we have to talk. No matter how dispassionate we feel about the subject, we have to participate actively and insert our comments.
Excessive exclamations also get on my nerves, such as “that food is SO disgusting,” “you were SO great in your performance,” and “I am SO mad he said that.” Honey, adding “so” in every sentence does not make you sound more sincere — just fake and exaggerated.
Can we really point to a group of people and call them the majority at Yale? Or is everyone a minority but some disguise it better than others and thus appear to be the “popular” majority? I tend to think that the majority does exist, and my superficial observations in the past three years have led me to think they are (of course, there are some generalizations, so not necessarily every one of the following applies to each member of the majority):
3. Able to get personal with the professors from the first day of classes
4. Constantly on the phone, as if they are trying to work out a solution for world peace
5. Uniquely styled when they come into the classroom, whether it be colorful pajamas or modelicious outfits
6. Regularly having sex
7. Busy with tons of extracurricular activities that allow them to meet similar people
8. Eating dinners in packs
9. Workout maniacs
I, on the other hand, am:
1. Not executing any concrete plan on becoming Teresa Ding the Great
2. Quiet, unless I have a point to make
3. Uncertain and hesitant about whom to ask for grad school recommendations
4. Succinct — my phone conversations normally do not exceed a minute
5. Practically invisible to the fashion eye
6. Still a virgin
7. Working a million jobs that keep me away from people my age
8. Eating dinners alone more often than with company
9. Not too into sweating
I admit, it is very hard to have confidence when you do not belong to the majority, but please know that nothing is wrong with you. Very few things in this world are absolute, and having fewer friends certainly doesn’t mean antisocial, bad or unsuccessful. Jump out of the fixed mind-set of what is normal, good and successful. Although I do not fit into the majority profile of having many friends, the few I have are special and sufficient to me.
To the class of 2011, I wish you all a happy Yale experience, whether it be in the majority or minority category. If there is one thing that I can say is absolutely good, it is happiness. Let it guide you on becoming who you will become.
Jun Teresa Ding is a senior in Trumbull College.