Sometimes the strangest, most simple thing makes you think twice. Or three times. Or even makes you sit down and write about it.
Walking around campus, off in your own world, you miss lots and care little. My most recent minor revelation occurred when I was walking over in the Junior slums last Tuesday night, and saw the most amazing thing. It was a boy and girl. Together. Kissing. And it amazes me that this amazed me. We are all members of a tiny little community that sometimes seems so separate and isolated from what some call "the real world." And yet we somehow manage to keep ourselves cut off even from each other – the sight of a normal young couple displaying a little sober public affection is practically unheard of.
On a college campus where hormones run rampant, Princeton students refuse to be seen enjoying each other's company. For people our age, hand-holding shouldn't be that embarrassing, kissing should be considered normal and PDA should not be such a strange sight. Seeing two people on the dance floor in TI probing each other's tonsils is normal; seeing a couple kissing goodnight outside a dorm is an anomaly.
The community of Princeton University is seen by some as a collection of some of the most impressive young people in the world. But somehow, we're all missing the point. This group of talented, intelligent, focused individuals seem to be lacking a trait that will take us further in the world than any test scores or average GPAs: It's called social skill. Somehow, over 4,500 students have made it through 20-something years of their lives not knowing or caring much about how to relate to the opposite sex.
Lack of sex at Princeton is a common complaint; the lost art of dating is much discussed also. The majority of the social scene revolves around the 'Street,' and where there are drunk Princetonians, there are hookups. Most of my friends, male and female, have headed out to the 'Street' on one or several occasions, dressed to kill, looking for action. Welcome to Prospect Avenue (a.k.a. Booty Call Central). More often than not, if the effort and initiative is there, they can find someone to go home with.
Although many people at this school have studied and partied and procrastinated enough to last them a lifetime, somehow they still aren't satisfied. My theory is that almost everyone is looking for a "someone" to fill that gap in their lives here. And if all these people are looking, why does it seems like there are so few who are actually finding?
In reality, there are some students that have found their "someone" here, and have discovered that this person is the answer to at least a few of their problems. Their "someone" can fill up an empty Friday night, rescue them from the library when all brain cells have been used up and listen to their endless complaining during exam period. On a deeper scale, perhaps their "someone" can be there to make them truly happy. Yet so many more students here need someone that can truly relate to them.
So now it is up to all of us to be more useful. Find someone to make happy. Then in turn, we'll get happier ourselves. When we become buried in our books, obsessed with our reading, papers and problem sets, we lose something vital. Our ability to enjoy life gets lost in a stack of papers and daily planners, and no one is the better for it.
After all, in 20 years, what really will matter more in the grand scheme of things: The difference between a C and a B on your Econ 101 final sophomore year, or remembering finding your first true love?
Princeton people tend to get wrapped up in their work, lamenting the fact that we have no time for a relationship, that we're at this university solely to learn. I would like to restate the oft-said fact that the sum total of your college experience can be counted as learning, not just what goes on inside the classroom and at the library. College is a four year experience, meant to be full of the things that teach us how to live life. Somehow, in the midst of all this learning, most of us have forgotten how to be human.
My conclusion is as follows: Nothing revolutionary, nothing truly exciting, just an encouragement.
There is someone here that is simply watching and waiting, waiting to make your pulse race, your lips tingle, your stomach churn. A "someone" who will make you truly happy. All you have to do is put forth a little bit of effort, and you will find them. It's almost that easy.
So girls, catch that guy's eye, smile a little bit, start a conversation and maybe give him your phone number. He'll take it. Guys, take a deep breath, dial that number and maybe ask that girl out. She'll say yes. Vice-versa works too.
There is a healthy percentage of people here looking for more out of these four years than a 3.9 and a job at J.P. Morgan. For those of you that fall into that category, take a second look at what you need right now in your life.
The next time you are hiding in the C-floor behind three paper deadlines and a fat stack of unread textbooks, stop and think. Remember back to when everything seemed so simple, think ahead to what's really worth it in life, imagine how good it feels to make your "someone" smile. Then find them. And relearn how to truly enjoy Princeton and your too-short time here. How? By being happy.