Section: Diverse Ideas and People
People have always been incredibly interesting to me. Their stories, day to day activities, and the class/race/gender they’ve been born with are who they either struggle or thrive as. As an individual who has suffered (and still does, at times) from some pretty intense social anxiety, I get to experience the strange phenomenon that happens when one both loves and fears something simultaneously. For those who haven’t experienced anything similar, it’s just as disheartening as it sounds.
I’ve made some pretty impressive strides along the lines of this anxiety in the past three or four years, and I’d say I’m definitely on the mend, but I have a ways to go in terms of speaking to people outside the social groups I assimilate into. I feel like this is a normal issue, both for people who suffer from mental illness and those who are neuro-typical, but I don’t enjoy thinking that any sort of discomfort could be considered ‘normal.’ Therefore, for this PDP, I decided to take notes from Humans of New York and speak to complete strangers about portions of their lives. Asking someone to share their likeness and a part of themselves with you is absolutely terrifying, especially when you’re always preaching respect towards people who look preoccupied with something other than your self-important aims and have to listen to those self-important aims to get things done, but people seemed to be pretty open to helping out.
Over the course of about three weeks, I took a number of strolls around campus, beginning at Larzelere Hall in order to warm up my social skills with people I already had become acquainted with. From there, I meandered around in pointless little squiggly lines to ask people to partake in my project. These pointless little squiggly lines brought me to these people:
My senior year of high school I had a running joke with my friends that to be gay you had to be victim to a hate crime, so for months I insisted that they throw eggs at me before I graduated. They refused and called me an idiot several times – but over spring break, Emo Alex took me to the park and they all ambushed me with castor eggs filled with rainbow glitter. They also gave me a box of Skittles which said, “Taste the rainbow, be the rainbow.” Now, I’m an official gay.
[In regards to the large German Shepard sticker on her laptop] I actually have a German Shepard, and I want to be a Veterinarian!
First night here, I went longboarding with people to catch
pokémon, and on the way out, I fell off on the [Robinson stairs’] ramp.
I like the layering of music. It started in band in sixth grade – it really started when I began playing basoon because, in an orchestra, you add instruments to instruments, like strings and brass and you can just hear the layers in orchestral music. This is unlike modern music,
can’t layer too much with voices. I really like the story music tells, and the deep parts where it gets heavy, like where tuba comes in. I also really like movie soundtracks. A horror movie isn’t suspenseful without the violin trilling before the music cuts out and the monster’s there. My favorite scene is from Captain America after they save the soldiers and they’re coming back and the music is all soft, but then the camera pans up and you see him and the music just drops.
I look for that in music.
That, and french horn.
I love french horn.
I super love running. I run a mile a day and have for two years. It started because I did Cross Country all four years of high school, and our coach had a ‘CD,’ or ‘Consecutive Day Streak’ challenge, and it was a sort of competition, but I want to keep it going through college. It’s proven hard; sometimes I’ll be running at eleven at night, but it’s worth it.
I live in a place where it isn’t brightly lit at night, so if my treadmill broke down at home, I’d run around my living room for ten minutes and count it as a mile.
I started work! I’m a deskie at Sweeney and I get to greet all the new people. It’s gratifying when I put a smile on someone’s face. Whenever I make someone laugh or smile, my heart gets, I dunno, like, light.
I’m fluent in ASL; have been since last year. I started studying senior year of high school and now I’m a senior in college, so four years.
I was an accounting major and now I’m a logistics major. I’m still working on it. Accounting was pretty boring, and logistics is really important and ever-changing.
I’m just now getting back into working out. I used to do powerlifting four to five times a week. So, this summer, I used to come back from work and that just didn’t work into my schedule. I just started to get back into it, and part of it is body image stuff. I know it’s not necessary; I’m one of the smaller people I know, but I used to be able to squat two reps of 200+ pounds and bench five reps of 80+ pounds so I have to get back to the routine of things.
Me: Where you guys going? In unison: Library!
Her: It’s too hot to study inside the dorms and our friends are too loud and distracting.
Her: We know each other from high school. It’s his eighteenth birthday on Tuesday, so we tried to go clubbing, but we realized we couldn’t do that. Him: Other than that, we got stuck in an elevator the other day. We were minding our own business, and all of a sudden it dropped really fast and got stuck. I was ready to just live the rest of my life out there.
Her: Wanna see my spider bite?
Me: Yeah! What happened?
Her: I dunno, I just woke up with it and it was really gross. Like, what kind of spider does that to people? If I was a spider, I wouldn’t do that to people – it’s just rude. Oh! And I found that I really love to dance. Even if I’m not good at it. I really enjoy being around people and having fun.
Every color has some sort of effect on people, ya know? Blue is supposed to calm people down for some reason. But who looked at parking lines and decided they had to be yellow? Why yellow? And why are the colors on a stoplight green and red? I guess we just don’t like red. Anyway, there are way too many freshmen on my floor. They keep walking into my dorm and I’m like, ‘no, get out.’ This one guy has an afro and I really think it’s cute that he looks up to me but they gotta stop just barging in.
We met through cosplay club; a lot of friendship circles we’re in started that way. We do a lot of conventions in Michigan, and it’s a really nice place where everyone can be themselves. We’re very LGBTQ+ inclusive, and we just try to enjoy ourselves and make sure everyone is having fun.
We’re trying to get people involved on campus politically. Not just registered to vote -although we want to make sure you’re voting in the upcoming election – but after the election we want to build a bigger network so we get progressive people together to make change happen faster.
Altogether, I’m pretty satisfied with the pictures and stories I captured. If I were to go out and capture more (hint, hint), I’d try to get more diversity by expanding my wandering grounds. I remained mostly on North campus to get my shots, but made my way East and West on occasion. I’m not willing to spiral down from the farthest corners of campus to the center, seeing as I wouldn’t be able to capture everyone unless I figured out how to magically stop time and interview every single person I saw individually. 27,000+ people. That would take a few hours. Just a few.
I’m really impressed that just by setting an expectation for myself I grew a large enough entitlement complex to talk to people that I may have been too intimidated to talk to otherwise – fraternity and sorority members, in particular. It doesn’t matter what sort of Greek life they’re a part of, they all seem to have an unnatural confidence that I have irrationally thought would absorb into them from me and leave me with less of myself. It’s not sad, it’s just the way my brain works because I’ve trained myself to think as a poet; I think about these things in order to make more interesting art.
This has helped me focus a lot more on using my theatrical background in order to forward my professional endeavors in a humane way, rather than reverting to the demanding stereotype I’ve personally thought of as the go-to, information-gathering tactic of journalists: pushing relentlessly for personal info. I do realize that this is an empty assumption, but it’s still a relief to learn that I can just snap into the person I want to be in order to create the art that I desire to, and then snap out of that character into the casual ‘me’ that I prefer to showcase to the general public. I’m the sort of performer who becomes another person onstage in a way that protects themselves from anxiety, so if I frame my creative endeavors as performance art, I’m all set and ready to go!
Much love and self-exploration to you,
Edit: BASOON NOT BABOON