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Happily disoriented

Justin Tardiff | Thursday, September 8, 2005

No, I don’t know your name. No, I don’t know where I am. No, I don’t know what time it is. No, I don’t even speak English all that well. Yes, I’m a freshman.

No one needs to help me in becoming “disoriented.” I’m already disoriented. I’m the master of being disoriented. In fact, I’m just striking random keys on my computer right now.

You know, on a long enough timeline, any chimpanzee with a laptop could type this article. I know, because I’m plagiarizing off that chimpanzee at this very moment.

Listen: when you’re a freshman, you’re supposed to be ignorant and at least marginally useless.

So embrace it. As the wise Billy Madison once said, “You gotta cherish it.” When the juniors down the hall want me to be more ignorant and even less useful, I graciously accept.

Why? Well, ignorance is bliss – I’m having an awesome time and I barely know what’s going on, considering that this place and these people are all entirely new to me. The best thing about being a freshman from New Jersey is that I’m doing pretty much whatever I want.

No one has a clue who I am. I can yell at people, because no one will recognize me; I can ask ridiculous questions, because people will just assume I don’t know better; and I can write absurd columns for The Observer, because no one here has made the connection between my name and what I look like.

It really has been a whirlwind meeting so many new people and learning where everything on campus is located. I’m trying to enjoy it now before I eventually realize that these are the people and places I’ll be seeing every day for four years, and I’m eventually going to have to learn real names and stop calling everyone ‘dude’ – especially the priests.

People aren’t in college because they know exactly what to do with their lives. They’re in college because they’re trying to figure that out.

Sometime between throwing water balloons, yelling at the television during the football game, playing ‘apple fork’ in the dining hall and trying to dodge the sprinklers, I realized that I was having fun with people even if I forgot their names six seconds after they told me. Sometimes you know the most about someone when you don’t know anything about them.

This blank slate situation only comes along once in a great while, so it’s not sensible to act timid. I go out of my way to talk to lots of people, and I hope people here aren’t afraid to come talk to me. Just because I’m in the ‘dog book’ doesn’t mean I bite.

That joke was exceptionally lame, but I’m serious – people keep telling the freshman class that we’ll settle in, that we’ll fit in and that we’ll find a place somewhere.

Don’t listen to any of that junk. It isn’t fun to settle in or fit in, because if you don’t limit yourself to certain places and people, then everyone can be your friend, and everywhere can be your home.