I just got back from Dartmouth. It was an eventful weekend. I bruised the toenail of my big toe. I showed it to a couple of friends. It was pretty gross.
Lately, I just can’t shake the feeling that I don’t deserve the happiness that I have been able to achieve in the past couple of weeks. There’s such a strong side of me that idealizes the destruction of everything I have achieved. It’s not that happiness is uncomfortable; I just don’t feel like I deserve it. The people in my life deserve better than whatever I offer them. It’s such a consuming thought. It’s so hard for me to convince myself that I have something to offer in other people’s life other than sadness.
I’ve noticed that feelings of numbness are usually triggered by a sense of isolation and alienation. Of course, I frequently feel lonely. But, it isn’t until I get reminded of that fact do I feel the numbness that accompanies it. It is usually time by myself, where I am able to think, that triggers this type of thinking. Spending eight hours in a car driving to New Hampshire does wonders for my mental health. Spending 10 minutes each way on the Dartmouth Skiway (owned, not surprisingly, by Dartmouth) ski lift also doesn’t help.
I didn’t get into Dartmouth. But, if I did, and I ended up going, I don’t think I would be happy there. I don’t think I would have been happy at any college that I went to given the person I was when I first entered college. But, especially not Dartmouth.
I dislike exclusivity, which comprises a large portion of my dislike towards Penn. But, from my impression, Dartmouth doesn’t even hide the fact that its campus is very exclusive. It was the last Ivy League school to admit women. And, from what I gathered from some conversations with a couple of Dartmouth students, this attitude of reluctance to embrace change hasn’t changed much. It seems so evident in the architecture itself that it is just feeding trough where the feed of countless mostly elite American boarding schools are poured into. The vibe, from what I’ve seen, is very similar to that of Princeton. If I re-read This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald, I would imagine this school to perfectly fit the “country club” vibe he had described.
There’s some equivalency between exclusivity and loneliness, I would imagine. If we’re talking evolutionary, the function of loneliness is to prevent humans from being separated from their group. Naturally, I would think that exposure to exclusion would invite a similar feeling of loneliness. And, from what I observed, the social life can be stratified into people who have access to the community that would allow them not to feel lonely, and people who do not have access to this community. Knowing myself, I would have been stratified into the people who would never build a community there. It would be quite a similar progression to my experiences here at Penn, I suppose. But, a lot worse, I would imagine.
It wasn’t the frozen eggs (which cracked when hard-boiled) that made an impression on me during the weekend. It wasn’t the fire alarm that we set off after accidentally opening a fire door or my snot freezing in my nose. Amidst the quaint architecture in the secluded Hanover town, all I could feel were the barriers that seem to serve as the fabric of entry. Despite the complete difference in lifestyle, I can’t imagine that this would have been a life I would have wanted.