Now that everyone has returned from their Spring Breaks in various corners of the world (realistically, mostly just Punta Cana, Cabo and Florida), the top conversation topics have quickly returned to pre-spring break norms: weather and work. Every corner I turn there is a big sigh in response to one of these two things. I am not absolved from this – on my walk up the hill this morning, I probably spent half of the time talking about how numb my toes were and the other half about dreading my 9:55 midterm which was, in my opinion, unfairly and insensitively placed so soon after break and the deadline of my thesis draft. But, I got over it, and so should you.
Talking about the weather is boring. People our age talking about the weather is a little like moms over fifty talking about pets – it’s mundane, rarely changes and totally out of our control. It doesn’t help matters that Colgate is more or less defined by its geographic location. You meet an alum and within the first minute of conversation you get a “hey, how’s the weather up there?” or some anecdote about a winter they endured at Colgate which was, no doubt, unique and unparalleled in its frigidity. I work at the Student Calling Center, where I get to talk to alums two nights a week, and 90 percent of those conversations involve weather – that is how central it is to Colgate’s identity. It’s a go-to conversation starter, a jumping-off point, a commonality Colgate alums share.
When it comes to your stress level and pile of work, you are not alone, nor do you have it worst. Over break, I read Mindy Kaling’s book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, and she summed this up perfectly: “I do not think stress is a legitimate topic of conversation, in public anyway. No one wants to hear how stressed out anyone else is, because most of the time everyone is stressed out…It’ll never lead anywhere. No one is going to say, ‘Wow, Mindy, you really have it especially bad. I have heard some stories of stress, but this just takes the cake.’ Whether it’s your midterm or your thesis, often times both, there are literally hundreds of other people on this campus dealing with the same thing. Save it for your roommate who has no choice but to listen to you and continue living with you.
As much as mundane weather commentary and complaints of work irritate me on a daily basis, I am beginning to shift my perspective due to the ever-nearing date of my graduation. The cold is our common enemy – a force against which we unite as Colgate students. We zip up our long North Faces and trek up the hill each morning, and the universality of that experience makes us a more collectively defined community. That, and, as soon as weather complaints stop, there will likely be about two weeks left of school, if that. The same goes for work as a unifying adversary – essentially everyone you know will likely be in Case on Sunday after neglecting said pile of work all weekend, and those same people will be out and celebrating the end of exams each Friday of finals week. So, while these conversations are a bit tedious and repetitive now, I anticipate that when it goes silent, I’ll be looking for things to complain about that don’t pale in comparison to the Colgate norms of weather and work.