The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Livin’ the dream: the first steps to a life well-lived

Yes, this column is going to be called Livin’ the Dream. Yes, it is a corny mantra that began as a joke, has made its way to my Facebook page and will eventually be relegated to the categorically bloated and overzealous. But for the benefit of your reading pleasure, let’s just go ahead and assume that there are many facets to such an endeavor and that in the end, our joint venture in achieving Dreams Lived-edness will be a fruitful one. If that doesn’t quite seem like the cat’s meow, you might be barking up the wrong tree there, Sparky.

Mixed metaphors aside, let’s begin our journey. It starts with a trip back in time. Not with Christopher Lloyd, Hewey Lewis and “skitching,” but something more circa 2003. It brings us to a time when boys in girls’ jeans and rotting Converses were all the rage in predominantly white middle class bastions of patriarchy and privilege—I mean, who am I kidding, they still are. But what I’m trying to conjure up is an image you may all somewhat identify with, either personally, from bad television, or just from having been so god damn metal that you couldn’t help but notice and hate those freakin’ emo kids. So there I am, 16 or so, ostentatious in my melodramatic and painstaking ritual of listening to Taking Back Sunday song after Taking Back Sunday song. God, what an asshole.

But that’s just it, man. High school wasn’t all expensive prom dresses and days-with-a-sub-in-art-class “HJs.” We all had heavy shit to deal with, even if it now seems trivial in comparison to putting off that seminar paper for one more in a ceaseless series of “final” Super Smash Bros. rounds.

We’ve probably all put a lot of it past us, to a certain extent at least. First years might even be doing the most running away from such a reality, since now is the time to break out, start fresh and leave all the wack ass shit of high school dead and buried. However, what I’m puttin’ down for you to pick up is that the emotional life of our pasts inform our current situations more than we might be willing or want to admit.

Are you thinking, “Well shit, thanks Freud, now what—something about Oedipus or my mom?” Well then chill, B. I’m not talking about psychically determined pasta bar choices or the end of freely willed flip cup. What I’m saying is that we need not run away from who we were back in sophomore year AP European History with studded belts and hair in our eyes. Perhaps instead we should embrace the screamo, punk, nerd, goth, jock, prep or other trite stereotype identity position we occupied during what felt like some underwhelming and perverted John Hughes’ side project, because at the end of the day, we’ve all got some of that kind of coping in common. I say share it. Have a laugh or drink over how silly we were in dealing with things when we were younger.

But remember to respect where you came from, because it probably put you on course for wherever it is where you’re going—be it grad school, tutorial or karaoke night at Voodoo Lounge on Fridays—more than any daunting work-in-progress would prefer us to admit.
Not satisfied? Deal with it.

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