Freshman Cameron Nelson’s confidence in her eccentricity was brought down to earth when she attended Columbia’s New Student Convocation this past Friday. Expecting to blow her classmates out of the water with her blue hair, $70 distressed Urban Outfitters overalls, and checkerboard Vans, she was surprised to find that she looked pretty normal compared to other new students.
“I’m so confused,” Nelson admitted. “I thought my style was so alternative. I dyed my hair blue last week, I even bought some of those clear Warby Parker glasses just to impress the other students here. I don’t even wear glasses.”
Nelson, once a hot-shot artsy kid in high school, was enthused to join the Columbia student population of smug assholes who spend more time carefully curating their brand than actually creating art. She said she was “eagerly” looked forward to joining a dynamic group of kids who avidly promote their SoundCloud pages and loudly talk about how tight one of their “friends” is with Chance the Rapper.
Devoid of social acceptance from her peers growing up, Nelson prided herself in her extreme teenage angst. According to her limited group of friends at home, Cameron spent most of her high school days bitching and moaning about how nobody really understood her. When she wasn’t sulking, she was griping about how the school’s administration should allocate less funds towards the football team, and more towards the theater department.
“I was pretty happy in high school, but I would never tell my friends that,” Nelson said. “They don’t need to know how hard I was trying to uphold my reputation.”
“Oh, we know,” added her friends, Rachel, Claire, and Tina, when reached by phone.
Despite her unique status in her hometown, it has somehow come to a shock to Nelson that she cannot stack up to some of the ridiculous shit Columbia students wear, say, and do.
“I mean, I saw someone compliment a girl for wearing a Beatles t-shirt,” Nelson said. “Is that what I have to do to fit in here? The Beatles are so 2011.”
Try as she might, Nelson could not compete with the crowd at Convocation. Columbia’s students are known for their creativity in stylistic choices – wearing certain items purely for shock value. Students are consistently aiming to outdo one another with their obscure music taste and knowledge of all the best dive bars in Wicker Park (even though most of them can’t even drink yet).
“The only people who get weirder than Columbia’s student population are those fuckers over at SAIC,” a Columbia senior said, asking to remain anonymous because of potential backlash.
Nelson’s roommate Emily Sterkowitz, on the other hand, is fully accepting of the bizarre student body population here.
“Cameron’s naivete is pretty stupid when you think about it, considering Columbia is an art school,” Sterkowitz said. “Everyone here was ‘that kid’ in high school.”
Checking in with Nelson a few days after Convocation, she admitted she is ready to conform and give up the edgy reputation she held while growing up.
“I’m giving in,” Nelson said. “Maybe this is my shot at being normal. I can’t wait to wear the Beatles shirt I bought on the first day of classes.”
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