November 10, 2011

Why You So Bitter?

Let's all just face the truth here. We live in a bubble. This is college everyone. 99% of us are in our late teens/early twenties. Let me show you what this means in concrete mathematical terms. *Disclaimer* I’m an English major so bear with me here!

Horny teenagers/young adults in their sexual prime + confined, homogenous (in terms of age) environment = shit show = college = Duke

Okay, so I used loaded abstract terms thrown in with some mathematical notation; big deal I already said I’m in Trinity, give me a break. My liberal arts ignorance aside, you get the point.

There are so many wonderful people here to look at/drool over/wonder if they're straight or not/get upset at when nobody approaches us.

Many people BECOME sexually active in college, and many of us here have only known the "market" that currently exists around us. There are Duke students and more Duke students, and that's about it. Yeah, you can venture over to UNC or some other school, but let's be honest, it's pretty much more of the same.

My point is this: It's so easy to be bitter because a lot of us are just starting out, but it's also understandable because we don't know anything else. (Did any of you find "love" back in high school? I know I didn't!) Duke is a truly awesome place, and I love it here. I love many of the people I've met in my three years here, and have hated others, of course (insert your “favorite” frat-star or that annoying guy/girl from your freshman seminar here), but I have to step back and admit to myself that this isn't reality. Yes, Duke is obviously a real place where we experience real joy, real sadness, real pain, and real hardships. But this is also an incredibly artificial environment. Good luck making up your own schedule when you get your first job; There is no ACES, there is only your boss and his/her expectation that you will have your shit together every day. Didn’t get your assignment done? Sure you can go ahead and turn it in late—right after you clean out your desk, that is. Unless you go straight to grad school (and even then you probably won't live on campus), all of you--all of us--will have to move on to the real world after we leave the Gothic Wonderland.

Out in the wilderness that is the working world, there are no such things as LGBT centers and Fab Friday’s at which to scope out the, uhhh “talent”, or frat parties where you can try to play “guess the gay”, and realize well before you brown out that it isn’t gonna happen tonight. The ratio of your age group to old people will be very different than the 30:1 you have grown accustomed to here. It will no longer be attractive for you to show up to social events wearing a pinnie you made from a t-shirt that always seemed one size too small on you….At some point, sexy will no longer be how often you go to the gym, but how often you go to work, and without having to wear your sunglasses all day to hide the shame of the night before.

The real world is different because the situations are different, but so are the people. Think back to your first day of high school. Who were you then? You were you, of course. But maybe you weren’t quite as open minded then. Maybe your friends were a little less ambitious than the ones you have now. Maybe you weren’t as secure in your sexuality then…maybe you didn’t even know what sexuality was! “People never change” is a term we seem to hear a lot, and I think it rings true to some degree—I was Kory yesterday, am again today, and probably will be tomorrow. But even though I haven’t changed, I know that each day I pick up something new—some new experience, some new observation—that becomes a part of who I am. Slowly, you begin to think differently as all of these experiences start to stack on top of each other. Maybe people don’t change, but what I know is true is that people develop over time. What we think about ourselves in ten years will be different than what we think now, and how we think about other people will surely change as well. There are always wonderful exceptions, but chances are that the person you can’t get enough of right now will make the future you want to throw up.

I would argue that all of us are on some level pretty immature. No, don’t get defensive, I don’t mean childish. I mean that most of us are still pretty inexperienced romantically. Ever think you were in love? Well, ya weren’t. Love isn’t something you think, it’s something you feel. Trust me, I’ve been down that road before. My first romantic encounter was with someone I really really liked, but definitely not the kind of person I could now see myself with for the rest of my life. It’s easy to think that we lost out when we don’t know anything, or anyone, else. I only came to this conclusion after dating more people with vastly different personalities, values, character traits, etc.

I’ll concede the fact that the gay pool is also far smaller than the straight pool, because it just is. It also sucks that statistically we have to place everyone we meet into the straight category by default. Only when told otherwise can we even begin to feel like this is someone we could approach romantically, and even then that’s a whole ‘nother battle in and of itself. But I categorically disagree with the notion that these facts make it harder for us to find that one special person with whom we will end up. I had an AP English Composition teacher in high school give the class some rather colorful, but still excellent, advice about how to write a quality paper. She told us that she didn’t care how long our papers were as long as we made our point, adding, “I don’t want to have to search through a pile of monkey shit to find the gem.” I loved her analogy so much that I’m going to use it here to help me explain my position. Whether you believe in fate or not, your gem is out there, no matter how large or small the pile is. You’ll have to go through the pain of searching through that pile like everyone else, accumulating a lot of shit along the way. If you are a good person, you will find someone out there who completes you. If you don’t, I promise you it’s not because you’re swimming in the wrong pool. The LGBT community is just as diverse as any other no matter what its size.

Your situation will change. Your responsibilities will change. It doesn’t matter how hard you fight it, these changes are going to affect you in a tangible way.

My advice: Don’t panic over what you can’t control. Don’t panic over what isn’t even relevant right now. Don’t be bitter; just be you. After all, it’s the latter that someone is going to fall in love with.


  1. Yessssssssss. I love this! Thank you for bringing this to light, Kory! I love everything you represent.

  2. "Ever think you were in love? Well, ya weren’t."

    If you've ever actually been in love, you know this is what those who haven't been in love would say.

    I can admit that this is a sensitive topic, because I would agree with you for the most part - that often times people throw the word "love" around casually, and are perhaps confusing this love with infatuation. But also, I would avoid being preachy and dictating other people's experiences for them.

    I realize this isn't the point of your post, so I'm gonna stop at that. But I absolutely love everything else about it. Duke IS a bubble, it's NOT the real world, and I'm setting my eyes on things that are so much bigger than this small town of 6000.

  3. ^ Ah, @4:07, I think you misread his point there. He went on to say "Love isn’t something you think, it’s something you feel." The operative word was "think" there.

  4. @4:07 At first I was gonna be all like "But I promise I wasn't trying to dictate other people's experiences for them!!!"

    But then I saw how it was written...For whatever reason, this blog hates italicizing anything, so without that formatting it doesn't read quite as I intended. (Thanks for explaining, Chris). That said, I absolutely agree! I have issues using the word "love" casually because I believe that true love is anything but casual, so thank you for bringing that up!

    Also, please never feel like you have to stop when it comes to responding to my posts! My goal is to be somewhat controversial to get people to really think about how they feel. If my posts piss you off, I would really like to know! That's how the conversation gets started :)

  5. A) Died at the title.

    B) We'll obviously talk about this later, but, for the public: Yes, Duke is a bubble, and, just like anyone's experience on any college campus, it ends. However, I'm always confused to hear students at Duke say that Duke isn't the "real world." I'm here for four years; does that mean that these four years don't matter? Surely not; a year and a half have already dynamically affected me. My actions here have consequences that will echo throughout the rest of my life. Things are going to change, people are going to change, and surroundings are going to change, but what matters for me is that I'm here, now, in this moment. I'm going to do my damned best to take advantage of this bubble, but that doesn't mean I won't hit bumps. People have feelings, emotions. Right now, I'm bitter. Later, I might not be. The fact of the matter is that people are going to feel how they're going to feel. The phrase "it gets better" puzzles me, because "it" can be a lot of different things.

    The message you're sending is a great one, but, as someone who tends to live in the moment (maybe a little too much (can't help that (sorry I'm not sorry (parentheses)))), I have to disagree on some of your points.

  6. Ryan,

    Thanks for the comments! You raise some great points, but I feel like you are basically repeating exactly what I'm saying. Duke isn't the real world in the sense that this is not an environment in which almost all of us will be operating in just a few years, right?

    Also, you say "people have feelings, emotions." I said almost the exact same thing: "Yes, Duke is obviously a real place where we experience real joy, real sadness, real pain, and real hardships."

    I think we actually agree on this issue far more than you realize! That being said, I think it's your last paragraph that really hits home how your philosophy is different than mine. You live "in the moment" far more than I do. That's really where we are different, I think. I believe that we in college get so stuck "in the moment" that we lose our foresight. We completely disregard the fact that we have our whole lives ahead of us. Instead, we have a tendency to get stuck in the past.

    Great comment! This is the kind of comment that really starts the important dialogue!