Advice for Kenyon Kids: Just Try Being Normal

Before you come at me, I already know– it’s not original to clown on liberal arts kids. But if going to school in Gambier has taught me anything, it’s that Kenyon breeds a unique kind of weird. I can’t help but reflect on how this strangeness has impacted my peers and I, for better or for worse. In the hopes of eliminating the “worse,” I have become an advice blogger for the day and crafted a fool-proof list of ways to just be normal. So listen up, fools.

DON’T: Use the term “Gaslighting” to identify simple miscommunications. I get it. Buzzwords are a hell of a drug. But I can assure you your history professor wasn’t trying to gaslight you by making a paper due at 7 p.m. instead of 12 a.m. Along a similar vein, your first year fall semi-exclusive E-boy hookup didn’t gaslight you when he didn’t wave to you on Middle Path. In reality, he either didn’t recognize you or was preoccupied with Adderall/nicotine withdrawals on his way to his “Humans: Do They Have Free Will? Let’s Find Out!” philosophy seminar.

DO: Work on your greetings. Some of you have a staring problem. The politics of saying hi shouldn’t be a thing. I assure you both parties are more satisfied by a simple wave than a tense, weirdly-charged (but not sexually charged, hopefully) limbo of eyebrow raises and vague recognition. Whether you love me, hate me, or have no idea who I am, toss me a gesture. And make that a universal practice on campus.

DON’T: Insert your therapist into casual conversation until you know your friends are chill. Haha yeah.

DO: Genuinely enjoy Joni Mitchell. Because she’s a good musician, regardless of whether that cute girl who puts her on her “Ohio Strolls [orange leaf emoji]” playlist reciprocates your crush or not.

DON’T: Co-Opt Kenyon lore until you’ve earned it. First-years and sophomores should get the green light from upperclassmen before they steal their jokes. I would also recommend crafting your own, but I’m a realist. So just keep in mind that until you have felt the ghost of Philander Chase breathing down your neck, keep his name out your mouth.

DO: Be creative. Kenyon Kids, we’re different from the rest. We bind little zines and sketch little characters and write little songs (or at least said we were gonna write a song every day during quarantine for five months, and isn’t it just as good in theory as it is in practice? No it isn’t). Anyway, our creative sensibilities set us apart, or at least we like to pretend they do, so go ahead and lean into that. Just don’t be pretentious about it. See below.

DON’T: Try. The cool art collectives can smell fear and/or desperation a mile away. Do cool stuff, but don’t make a thing out of it. Hustle culture has no place on the Hill, so slow down and take a breath. If you get accepted as an intern for a desirable literary magazine, you should definitely tell everyone “oh, yeah, I forgot I sent in my application. It was kinda on a whim, but might as well take the offer.”

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