When I initially came here, I wanted a Spectator column, but now that I think about it, I can’t really recall why. It was going to be a politically-minded column—I remember that at least, and the sample article that I applied with was something about why Obama was letting us all down. I was rejected. I became an associate opinion editor instead, and the rest was history.
So much of what happens here is completely serendipitous, and although I don’t adhere to the fatalist “it all happens for a reason” ideology, I can at least see the power that every single thing that has happened in my life has held, and the impact that it has had on me.
When I finally achieved my dream of having a column in January of this year, I was still a different person than today. This column changed me, because it has forced me to reflect, and I have become an intensely more reflective person.
This column, along with essentially everything else that I’ve experienced at Columbia, has taught me how to think. And to think about thinking. And to think about thinking about thinking. Thinking back to it, it’s kind of sickening, but I have no regrets. And I will reflect, goddammit.
I use this column to basically spew everything taking place in my mind into words, in conversations with my friends, and in all of my experiences, no matter how trite they may be, into words. I believe that the cliché is what unites us, and no matter how archetypal we all may be—we are, after all, really just hilarious parodies of ourselves—these thoughts are still worth sharing.
And for whatever reason, rather than keeping a personal journal, I decided to share these thoughts with the Columbia community every other week. I suppose this is mostly because I am not a middle school girl, and I do not need to keep a personal journal. I should still take this opportunity to apologize for burdening all of you with my thoughts, because as I know from the ever-angry anonymous commenters who lament the lame philosophizing that occurs within these columns, my thoughts sometimes ruin your days. But, with all due respect, fuck you. I will continue to share them, continuing right now, because it gives me some bizarre sense of closure, even at the expense of my future employment. Here we go.
I’m leaving for Argentina to study abroad in a month, and I’m leaving Columbia in less than two weeks’ time for a solid nine months. This is, perhaps, why I’m in such a particularly reflective mood.
I’ve been waiting to get out of here for a while, as evidenced by the theme of action vs. theory that I’ve emphasized in my column through the entire semester (usually coming down strongly on the action side), but I can’t help but already start to feel nostalgic about Columbia.
Columbia is a bubble, and I love that bubble. Let all the haters hate and bitch about how difficult and useless and unloving Columbia is, as some may have done recently in these pages, but they’re idiots if they can’t see the opportunities that we’re provided here.
College is our time of idealism, in which we create this incredible world for ourselves and our peers within the bubble, and can have infinite hopes for the world we’re about to enter outside of the bubble. Eventually the majority of us will settle down and become moderate once we leave, but for now we can live large with high expectations, looking down on the type of people that we will inevitably become, idealizing the world outside of our bubble without being fully exposed to its reality.
I rarely find myself in a sentimental mood, so I will take this opportunity to admit that, in spite of all its absurdity, I love everything about this place: The like-minded people that surround me, the privilege of opportunity afforded me and everyone else who attends here, and the level of intellectualism in which we are engulfed. Columbia—the classes, the people, the organizations, the professors, the environment—have shaped me into the person I am today: a person who never stops thinking, surrounded by people who never stop thinking.
And yet, I often feel trapped, because I constantly need new experiences. As nice as it is to live in a perfect bubble, it can also be smothering. I know that I want to leave the bubble, but I also know in my heart that I will never in my life again live in a situation as ideal as college, and that by the time I come back here, I’ll already be a senior (how can it already be the three-year anniversary from when I received my acceptance letter!?).
I know that I will never again live in an environment in which I can write something as public and frivolous as this—an environment as accepting but perfectly critical as this one. And I am already nostalgic for what I leave behind here, because no matter how much I can look forward to my experience abroad, leaving comfort and a sense of home is always difficult.
This column over the past year has achieved what I hoped for: to record my progression in thought. I hope these reflections meant something for you as well. Finally, next semester, I will escape the bubble and be able to have my thought influenced by real action. But for now, at least, I try to rationalize the irrational.
Leo Schwartz is a Columbia College junior majoring in political science and Latin American studies. Rationalizing the Irrational usually runs alternate Thursdays.
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