Through the Looking Glass

When I walk on Dickinson’s campus, it’s not hard to feel like an outsider, the culture that us Americans have been made used to during our times in high school is still prevalent yet it takes on new forms. Whether that be through organizations like sports teams or through friend groups and social clubs, it’s hard not to feel like an outsider looking in. It especially is not easy when Dickinson’s community is divided, so to speak, along these arbitrary lines. The one real thing every Dickinson student has in common is that we all go to Dickinson and there’s not much else every student can share equally amongst ourselves.  

(A photo of a Dickinson college event, not sure when this photo was taken)

The difference between belonging and being an outsider, in my opinion is a blurred line. You can be an outsider and belong somewhere (your idea of home, for example) and you can belong somewhere and feel like an outsider. Moving away from home for the first time to attend Dickinson was a massive change in my worldview and opened the doors for meaningful friendships with my roommates, people in my residence hall and peers I share classes with. Yet, as I’ve stated before, the sense of belonging somewhere is often blurred. I share a lot of interests with my roommates and some people on my dorm floor, but beyond that, it all depends on what classes you’re taking and meeting people there.

I’ve been fortunate that I have had the opportunity to meet people around the world with unique worldviews, from France, Sweden, Turkey, Greece, Israel, Pakistan, the U.A.E and others. When I’ve spoken to these people, they’ve created that sense of belonging every person my age is looking for. Being surrounded by people who themselves have differing opinions about historical and current events and who themselves share the same burning passion for history that I do breaks the cultural and national divide that we now live in. These interactions created that sense of belonging; that I was surrounded by peers who shared a common interest that kept us engaged and always asking for more, more thoughts, more ideas and more solutions. There will always be room in this world for societal change and our generation is the key to unlocking that.


2 responses to “Through the Looking Glass”

  1. Mason, thank you for sharing your thoughts! I was particularly interested in how you brought up that many of us merely continue in the activities we did in high school, thus remaining within similar groups of people. It made me wonder about outliers to this general practice. For example, in high school, I was exclusively involved in the performing arts, but on campus I have joined a variety of clubs, none of which are related to the arts. In such a case, do you think moving into a new community and feeling out of place can be beneficial and perhaps provide the opportunity to branch out?

    • Thank you for your insight, Claire! I think what happens over a long term period is you build up a social routine, this leads you to find people with similar routines through clubs, sports, friendships, study groups or whatever you choose. I would agree that moving out of your routine helps to break down the norm we associate with the term “outsider”

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