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Going to the Big City!
June 14, 2010 |
I just graduated from high school in a small town in central Kansas, and am looking forward to going to college in Chicago.
What should I expect moving to a big city?
-A Lifetime Fan
A large moment in your young life, Mister Graduate, and of course your family will get it all on film but you should start keeping a daily journal in recognition of the largeness of the passage. Avoid the grandiose ("Looking up at the sky, I feel the vast indifference of the universe....") and simply record the daily factual matters. ("I studied for four hours in the library and then She sat down opposite me at the table. Wanda is her name and she is the love of my life.") You didn't ask my advice, but I'll give it anyway: remember that every day is a new day and every day deserves a clean pair of underwear. What you can expect in the big city are frequent violent attacks of feelings of utter insignificance. In Kansas, you were known, you carried a history, people smiled to see you, they knew your ancestry, you were a shining star, and in Chicago you are simply one gerbil in a vast gerbil colony, millions of you running on your tiny wheels, and who cares? This feeling of insignificance has two sides, one dark, one light. The dark side is futility and loneliness and depression. The bright side is freedom. Nobody is watching you, judging you, expecting you to be the person they want you to be: you're free to be the you you can hardly imagine right now. You're free to be Somebody that maybe you wouldn't dare to be in Kansas. Your small-town upbringing has given you certain good habits honesty, perseverance, good manners that will stand you in good stead in Chicago. You'll pick up some big-city skepticism and style, and you'll come to love Chicago. You'll embark on the great intellectual adventures of college and in that heady atmosphere you'll make friends who will be good friends for the rest of your life. You will go home a hero next summer. Just remember not to get hit by a bus and avoid the greasy tentacles of addiction and obsession and learn how to cheer yourself up when you feel down. And write a little bit in your journal every day. And put on clean underwear every day.