Be true to yourself: The W&L bubble

Rachel Hicks

Many Washington and Lee students seem like walking Facebook profiles—beautiful pearl smiles, extracurriculars galore, 4.0 GPAs, athletes of the week, etc.  Sometimes I feel like I’m on a never-ending campus tour—everything and everyone work like pristine clockwork, setting a daily stage of sparkling perfection.

I have yet to discover how people coexist at the gym and the library.  The same people who pump iron from sunup to sundown appear to never close their books.  When does everyone have time to take a shower and look presentable?

Mess is a foreign word to W&L.  The janitors clean the dorm bathrooms around 5 a.m., washing last night’s mistakes down the drain.  At dhall, dirty dishes mysteriously disappear on the automatic conveyer only to reappear squeaky clean in the dining area soon after.  All clean up is behind the scenes, creating the illusion that there was never any mess.

The absence of mess is the presence of stress.  When there’s no room to muck things up, pressure starts creeping in.  There is very little room to make mistakes in the infamous W&L bubble.  On slipup from one individual and the whole perfectly round world may explode.

It’s wonderful to go to such a clean, beautiful, studious and athletic university; however, the façade most students wear along with their vineyard vines becomes old every now and then.

The Speaking Tradition is one of my favorite parts of W&L, but it contributes to the aura of perfection on campus—everyone is always smiling and friendly.  Is it because they are or because they feel like they have to be?

Is anyone else starving for a breath of sincerity?

Most students are afraid of admitting they are struggling.  Some admit they are stressed, but that’s about as far as a heart-to-heart goes.

The counseling center is free and available, but it seems almost like an embarrassment to walk in there.  It’s too much to admit we are fragile and need help.

The other day, a girl walked out of the Health Center crying uncontrollably.  What was wrong?  No one stopped to ask because they were afraid of dealing with an uncomfortable situation.

I thank this girl for walking outside with tears in her eyes; it was refreshing.

It’s a sign of strength to forsake pride and reveal weakness.

Stop for a second.  Let people see you for who you really are, not for who you want them to see.  Answer how you really feel instead of the standard “fine, thank you.”

I’ve noticed people don’t want to get involved in long-term romantic relationships because they are afraid of the mess.  Well, people may be messy, but love and friendship are great.  Relationships have their ups and downs, but spending time with other humans is what teaches us the most important life lessons.

Let’s challenge ourselves to be vulnerable with one and other.  Pop the W&L bubble and see what happens.  You may be surprised at how many hands reach out to clean up the pieces you broke.