by Alex Shapanka
'A college degree â a symbol of higher education. From an early age weâre taught that going through secondary school and university will prepare us for the âreal world.â Whoever said that was a liar, sharing only half-truths. Sure, we train our minds for intellectual pursuits, making them dexterous enough to achieve in the workforce. But our higher education is pretty unilateral, and the last time I checked the world was not so singular. There is more to life than running regressions and cranking out twenty page research papers. No, Iâm not referring to going to Shooters or Devines. I mean emotion.
Before you get defensive and feel misjudgedâ¦actually no do. Please. I want you to feel as though Iâm completely wrong. Be indignant. Tell me that you experience sadness, apathy, fear, shame, pride, and joy. My point is that we NEVER talk about our emotions. We feel, but itâs somehow taboo to acknowledge that weâre not hunky-dory. Imagine the last time you saw a friend on the plaza in passing and asked, âHow are you?â Did you actually care? Were you really prepared for an answer other than âgoodâ or âfineâ? Probably not. We are reluctant to share our feelings.
Exhibit A: that dying sub-genre of alternative rock socially described as Emo (see video). After we get over the short-lived nostalgia for our early pubescent angst, we generally pooh-pooh on the music, even though itâs done nothing deserving of our contempt. Perhaps we are uncomfortable with the public display of emotion in Emo(tional) music. At Duke expressing anything other than confidence or stress seems to be a social donât.
How can we be successful doctors, lawyers or financiers, if we feel? Emotions are too distracting and show weakness, right?
On the contrary, we wantâ¦no need to share our feelings. The Center for Race Relations offers a weekend retreat every semester to discuss socioeconomic, race and gender issues. While the subjects are important to discuss, what makes the program so success is the raw emotion people communicate. If you havenât gone, you still see it. When participants come back they are âCommon Ground peopleâ because theyâre hyper aware of the problems and seem emotionally charged. Thatâs because they felt during the retreat. The sad part of it is that people talk about their struggles during CG but have never once mentioned them to their closest friends on campus.
That may seem odd, but it makes perfect sense. We live in a culture on campus (and in America) that isnât safe to share our feelings. Itâs not acceptable to be Emo.
I had a close friend (a Dukie) recently tell me sheâs upset about something, but refused to clarify, though she assured me it wasnât anything too serious. Talking about it out loud would âmake it real.â
Why do we fear being emotional? We all feel. Sorry to burst your bubble, but none of us, including those going to the top IB firms, are immune to a case of the blues. Accept the volatile emotions and next time someone asks you, âHow are you?â actually tell them how youâre feeling. Letâs try to learn more from college than our T-reqs. Strive for a degree of emotion.