Minus the City: Mediocre Waterparks

“It’s not a phase, Mom,” is a phrase that incites cringe-laughter as I take a trip down memory lane, through every awful aesthetic choice I made starting at the age of 12. I think of the guy from high school who dyed his hair in a rainbow pattern, the kids who wore all black and neon Dr. Martens and the random kids that hung out by the music room steps and did cosplay on the weekends. I remember everything that I thought was absolute and permanent, yet still grew out of. I think about hookup culture.

When I first got to Colgate and realized that hookup culture was the dominating form of sexual and romantic relationships, I wasn’t particularly phased by it. For the most part, I’m a pretty go-with-the-flow kind of girl. I’m realizing now that “going with the flow” at Colgate feels like riding the same loop of a lazy river at a waterpark every semester. I’m bored, I’ve been in the lazy river for two years and I’m starting to think the wave pool has a lot to offer me. 

The issue I face now is adjusting to being atypical in a social and romantic culture that I’ve been conditioned to fit into. I’ve trained and practiced for so long, at this point the typical behavior in Colgate hookup culture is muscle memory. It’s almost like a gym routine; I walk into Trudy, swipe my Gate Card, plug in my headphones. I know what I like to do on the treadmill and the stationary bike, and the ab exercises that work for me. It’s pretty easy at this point. How am I supposed to unlearn something that’s come to be instinctual? Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

Not only will I be fighting myself, trying to learn how to meet and interact with guys in a way that builds non-casual relationships, but every social norm will be telling me what I’m doing is wrong. It’s scary to go against the grain, you never know when people are going to take it the wrong way and get weirded out. Is it worth looking like a weirdo, just for the possibility, not even the guarantee, of getting what you want?

I’m coming to terms with the fact that there will be a period of discomfort as I shift from one phase to the next. Yes, the wave pool is where I want to be, but in order to get there I first need to abandon my floaty, get out of the lazy river and walk across the park in a soggy, saggy bathing suit. By no means will this be pleasant. I believe wholeheartedly, though, that it must be done. I deserve to spend my day at this mediocre waterpark however I want, it doesn’t matter that the lazy river is where everyone else is hanging out.

Contact Kate Hinsche at [email protected].