post- editors discuss transitions
Change is tough for all of us, no matter how much we prepare. This week, Brown students new and old adjust to new lives, and Post- editors bring you our thoughts on transitions, of all shapes and sizes. Best of luck with these hectic weeks, and keep an eye out every Thursday for your weekly dose of Post-!–Monica Chin, Features Managing Editor
I am temperamentally skeptical of the concept of personal transformation. I do think active attempts at self-improvement are valuable. I also believe that it’s (generally) good to set aside time to reflect on personal changes and label them as transitions, if only to yourself. (It seems very psychologically effective. For example, think of how effective New Year’s is for getting people to set goals). However, I’m the kind of person who naturally defaults to thinking that I’ve always been exactly the way I am, no matter the number of changes I’ve actually made. I’ve learned how to speak in front of hundreds of people—and also how to speak to just one. I’ve learned how to deal with a moose collision (after several trips to Maine). I’ve learned how to cook (and how to cook reasonably healthy meals). But I still feel that I’m much the same person as I’ve always been.
I was born in D.C., then lived in Abidjan, Seoul, New York, Seoul again, then back in New York, and finally arrived in Providence. Yet, all this time, living under my parents’ roof and as the youngest member of the family, I always remained a child despite the frequent changes surrounding me. Even in college, I couldn’t equate my being a student with being an adult, especially considering my living situation—on campus and on meal plan. I blush to say this, but as the years went by, I held on more dearly to my childhood, fearing living in my very own place and being completely self-sufficient in terms of food, et cetera.
Finally, I spent a summer in San Francisco for the first time, subletting for myself, learning to do grocery shopping and cooking with no guidance (besides hoarding and memorizing as many Pinterest recipes as possible). It seems so little, but something about having my own place, having more control over my nutrition, and realizing how manageable it is, sparked a mental switch.
There was no better precursor to my senior year than this summer. Living off-campus and being off meal plan for the full year, I certainly feel different from the girl I was even up until end of last semester.
Deep breaths, you can do it. Go through with it. These thoughts ran through my head, as one hand gripped my heavily-abused bleached hair and another held a simple pair of scissors. I’d wanted to have short hair since the beginning of freshman year. It was now the end of sophomore summer, and I was, at last, ready. The ends of my hair were dry and sad, bearing a tragic resemblance to a bundle of wilted hay. I remember pursing my lips as I inched the scissors closer. With soft violence, I shredded through my substantial ponytail, then proceeded to grab a section of my hair and cut bangs. I looked into the mirror, and barely recognized myself. I blinked twice, and felt a torrential wave of panic.
Shit– what did I do? How can I go into public like this?? I haven’t had this haircut since I was two years old, perpetually dressed in corduroy overalls.
After fifteen minutes of frantic pacing, I reached a cool point of acceptance and slipped into an increasingly growing… satisfaction? I ruffled my hair a bit, and luxuriated in the lightness of that feeling.
As all things go, this was about more than just long hair, self-image and split ends. This was a summer dedicated to bravery, accountability and letting go. Three weeks before this moment, at 11 PM on my birthday, my long-distance relationship of two years ended.
I emerged from the heated grips of August, newly single, newly nineteen and, evidently, with newly cut hair.
During the few weeks I was home during the summer, my mother tasked me with cleaning out my room. In stereotypical college student fashion, I waited until 11 p.m. the night before my train to attempt this endeavor. The attempt was largely unsuccessful. As I rooted through my piles of clothes, books, stuffed animals, souvenirs, and old gifts, waves of nostalgia brought me to my knees. These things have served no purpose in my life for the past decade, but the prospect of throwing them away opened holes I’d never known could exist before. There’s a weird, deep sadness that only seems to exist in that room, at weird hours of the night.
I live now in a cold apartment with no stuffed animals or books. I lived in a different cold apartment over the summer, on the seventh floor of a tall building in a big city. Before that, a small dorm room overlooking the Main Green. Before that, a loft in Copenhagen. Before that, a broom closet in China. Each time I pack and unpack, that weird nostalgia sinks deeper, the knowledge that I have to choose which parts of my life I’ll next be leaving behind. I suppose this is what your early twenties are, shifting from life to life, filtering out the necessary memories until all you have left is your future. It was exciting at first. But after almost four years, I’m glad it’s coming to a close.
In 2011, Mariah Carey spent countless hours on the Home Shopping Network peddling her then-new collection of clothing, jewelry, and fragrances to an eager audience of millions of Middle Americans and probably Eminem. One item on display during one of her two-hour live sales pitches was a pair of Mariah Carey Cropped Cargo Pants, a versatile statement trouser priced at $79.90 with $7.22 shipping and handling. She ushered in the pants as representative of a “summer transitional moment,” a moment I feel we are now tragically in the midst of. We don’t usually think of September as part of summer, but the first half seems ever determined to make it Hot in Herre at all costs. At the same time, academic and public buildings are still keeping it real cool to wipe out Zika or something, which renders the go-to tank and shorts out of the question. So, on the cusp of this pit-stained, swamp-assed Summertime Sadness, I find myself longing for those $79.90 Mariah Carey Cropped Cargo Pants, the perfect transitional slacks with storage space for all your heart could possibly desire — a scentless Lady speed-stick, one of those sexy S’well bottles, maybe even an ice cube to hold on your wrist just like your weird cousin always tells you to do.