A Place to Exist
At Williams, a place that can easily allow an individual to deteriorate in the social isolation of a single dorm room, it is necessary to find a place to work (because it seems like that’s all we do here), that allows a student to have opportunities to gently and momentarily socialize, breaking out of their focused labor. We’re habitual creatures: it’s comfortable this way.
The location of choice is essential. The places you choose to be, whether you’re aware of it or not, control your social circles. The chances of me running into a friend of mine skyrockets when I loiter in the places where the friend and I usually hang out. It makes sense, considering that some of the friends I have are only friends with me because of our mutual classes. Does that imply that our friendship is purely circumstantial? Perhaps, but technically every friendship is like that, considering how the typical friendship is based on a circumstantial mutual interest, rather than on a mutual schedule. Friendship is based off of reciprocity and collaboration, even if it’s just collaborating in conversation meant to pass the time. We only have each other, you know?
But sometimes isolation is necessary. Anonymity is comforting. At home, the population density means that the moment I hit the street, I am swept up by the masses, and my entire self becomes nearly faceless: nobody wants to make eye contact. It clears your head, and functions as a reminder that one’s mistakes and one’s past does not shape him or her. I crave it when, like everybody, I occasionally have a period in which it feels like every move I make is a mistake and that I am a failure.
On a campus of approximately 2,100 students, it is remarkably hard to hide. Considering the 450 acres that belong to the institution, each student should be allotted about 200,000 square feet. That number doesn’t seem very accurate, though. It might be because god forbid stepping outside: you might freeze to death.
You might think that my dorm room is a great place to exist when I want to be alone. That might usually be the case, I’ll admit, but my room is full of distractions and reminders of who I am and who people perceive me to be. A dorm room is expressive: from the fundamental choice of bedsheet to the more unique question of wall art, I’m surrounded by reminders of my identity, which, in a momentary desire to disappear and embrace anonymity, only extends my suffering. When I look for a place where I am nobody, my room isn’t comforting.
There’s a simple answer to this problem: I choose to go to a place in which I don’t usually choose to exist. I choose to wander into a building or space that my card lets me enter, but I’ve never taken the time to try. There are no rules unless there’s an authority to enforce them, and that has led me to wandering in some funky areas on occasion. I’m a fan of random classrooms in Science Quad and the auditorium downstairs in the Student Center. I like the empty seats. I get to sit wherever I want.