It is easier to be anonymous than it is to be a highly involved student on campus.
Sure, there are hundreds of clubs shaking flyers at you as you walk with your head down through the hallway of MUSC (and if you are in residence the sometimes painfully awkward floor gatherings). If you are lucky enough to be in a small program that you enjoy, you might look forward to seeing recognizable faces in your regular sized lecture rooms, and feel accountable for attendance because you know that your professor actually knows your name.
But for others, after the business of frosh week dies down, after you discover you do not and never will possess the skills to be a varsity athlete, after you don’t need to ask anyone how to get to TSH 120, it is a lot easier to become anonymous.
A typical day consists of snagging a bagel and a coffee from home, or maybe a ready-made Centro breakfast for you residence folk, showing up to an 8:30 a.m. lecture with 300 other people, and sitting in the back so you don’t bother anyone with the sounds of your snacking. An hour in between class means find a spot in the busy student centre (try the third floor) to check each social feed a couple of times before glancing at the essay outline and taking a quick nap. Another coffee sometimes helps too.
After the day of class is done, you could go check out whatever is happening in the atrium, but nah, your bed and an episode of New Girl seems a lot more appetizing. Come Friday, and the world is a better place. Gather the others, drink, go out, come home (or at least to a house), sleep it off, and repeat until Monday.
It’s not a surprise to me that university is where people find themselves in crisis mode for the first time. Not because you haven’t had to study before, because the culture of university, while busy and exciting to the outside observer, easily fosters a lifestyle of anonymity. If that doesn’t bother you, props to you my friend.
But being anonymous makes it easier to struggle, and not think you need to reach out. It makes it easier to drown in your schoolwork and never bother to ask for help. It is an easy life to get used to, but it is in no way the most appealing.
Let’s not hide in our achievement of being a stranger, or forget that we’re surrounded by thousands of others like us. If you are feeling alone, chances are other people are too. Think about what you loved back in high school, and find the university equivalent. Or find something new to love.
Go out to an event, a club, a meeting. Tell someone if you hate the idea of being alone. If you are an introvert like me, the idea of it can be quite exasperating. It’s a big place, but being anonymous is no way to fill your spot.