First day of school, freshman year. Fresh from back to school shopping, ready to reinvent yourself. Outfit looks great and your hair cut looks safe. Yes, you get to be whoever you want in college, and most people want that to be a person with friends. By society’s constraints, people come to Rice wanting to impress others, looking particularly plain and approachable. And we will be completely not-surprised to see that it works! All new students with any hair cuts will find friends.There is nothing wrong with this! Going off to college is scary, and it is so natural to want to fit in. Luckily, that basic period of time is something that Rice has come to minimize. Going through an entire week of orientation with people you will live with for the next 4 years makes people very comfortable, very quickly. The people you meet (roommates, o-week groups, etc.), are chosen, by hand, to be people you will like. And they will like you right back.
Coming back from winter break, sophomore year. Settled in and doing things we enjoy (like your German Fairytales class). Hair cut: fresh and free. Finally solved the riddle of how to find happiness: being yourself. Not only have your old friends decided that they like the real you (the you who has ventured into Acroyoga), but a ton of new people have realized how awesome you are as well. Your close community grows bigger so that your support system now stretches across the entire campus. Your hair cut reflects how you try new things (like becoming a site leader for an alternative spring break), and maybe you didn’t know how growing organic vegetables was going to turn out, but you made a commitment, and you are still living through it. Because you rock the most at being yourself.
Beer Bike, junior year. Hair cut: TBD Stress, we all feel it. The academics are hard, you’ve picked a major that you aren’t really sure about, you’ve been through your first heartbreak, and the servery is having green beans and mashed potatoes, again. Good thing that we plan a week around being incredibly spontaneous and ridiculous. It’s great that you, as a typical Rice student, stay on top of your work, because you aren’t going to want to open a book this week. You don’t have to worry, because no one is worrying. Your hair has changed three times during the week: dyed, cut, and filled with Holi powder and mud. This is a great week of your life. You realize that your summer internship is going to be amazing, you are doing well in your classes, and you love green beans. Everything you’ve been doing the past 3 years has, and will be worth it. Relax! And breath in this beautiful weather Houston gives us around this time of the year.
Graduation, senior year. Hair cut: perfect. Not only are you finished, you are ready. You have become substantially more yourself at Rice. An incredibly smart, well spoken, and friend-having graduate. You’ve just finished an incredible senior thesis about the correlation between gender and drug prices, you’ve impacted an incredible amount of lives through your volunteer work in the Medical Center, and you realize how good you are at problem solving. The last four years seem like a blur, so it is a good thing everyone documents everything in this generation (specifically to remind you of the time you forgot you had a presentation so you improvised on the topic of “Theory of Business Principles in 1920’s Cinema”).With your job lined up and ready to go, and your cap and gown on point, all you have to do is walk out of the Sallyport.
But your legs want nothing more than to take another lap around the inner loop.