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Chirps From the Nest: Ball State is the New Black

Chirps from the Nest 200I was watching an episode of my new favorite show, Orange is the New Black, when it made me stop and think about life a little. Now if you haven’t seen the show, make some friends that have Netflix and go watch it. You’ll be hooked; I promise. To give you an idea of the premise of the show, it is about a women’s correctional facility and a woman’s struggle to adapt to prison life. Now that’s a very vague description of it, but that’s all you need at this point. So on this particular episode, an inmate is preparing for her release and is asked by a visitor where she wanted to go on her first night out.

Stop and think about that. Where would you want to go? If you had had everything familiar taken from you, including the freedom to come and go as you pleased, and could suddenly pick one place to go, where would you go? Would it even feel the same as before? What would you do there?

So I was sitting there thinking about life, and I think I would choose Ball State. I’m hoping this isn’t the eye rolling oh-boy-here-she-goes-again Ball State’s Biggest Fan type of thing. It feels good to be in an environment, a community, where I know I am appreciated and accepted for whomever I want to be and where I can truly appreciate those around me.

Sometimes I like to just listen to what students are saying on their way to class or in the halls. Sometimes I like to just sit outside and people watch. One of my favorite locations is outside of Pruis Hall between the library and the theater; there’s a solid mix of people that walk through there. I highly recommend that everyone get a good pair of sunglasses that really allow you to get a good stare in. Because do you really know the great variety of students whom you go to school with?

I think we get trapped in this bubble as students, and I would assume so too as an adult in the professional world. We’re told to accept everybody and embrace diversity and those around you. We think by verbally saying, “yes, I accept so and so who is different from myself,” that it qualifies us as being a diverse person, but have you ever stopped and considered where people come from? Who is that Asian boy in your class that is being stereotyped yet again as being so smart but you don’t realize that he’s an only child who’s pressured by his parents and culture to achieve great things? Who is that fabulous gay guy you smirk at for his short shorts even though you wish your legs were that great and don’t understand that nobody at home accepts him? Who is that transfer student who has lived in Muncie all their life but went to Ivy Tech for a year and just wants you to sit with them at lunch so they feel like they belong at the university?

What I’m saying is, great people surround us! We are given ample opportunity go beyond our personal horizons and expand our knowledge, without even going to class. We are surrounded by people who can teach us so much simply by having just one casual conversation. But we gravitate towards our comfort zone.

It’s really unfortunate that so many opportunities are wasted because students are afraid to step out of their comfort zones. They are 20-something years old and they still ask permission to do things they think their parents might disagree with. This is college. This is thousands of people, hundreds of organizations, and countless ways for you to figure out who you are. Who are you? Do you know?

Over the next few years, if you can embrace those around you, you’re going to learn things you’ve never even realized you didn’t know. You don’t have to be an extroverted over-the-top social butterfly to learn from these people. They’re in your classes, they’re your neighbors, they’re walking on the sidewalks with you; there are people that are different than you everywhere.

In my three years at Ball State, I have questioned nearly everything I believe in. I have changed my major and something about my life plan nearly every semester. It’s exhausting. I call my parents and they don’t usually understand what I am saying or why I am making the choices that I am, but my mom always says, “I trust you. You make the right decision.” And that’s what college is about: making decisions and when they don’t turn out like you hoped, you learn from them and adjust your plan, heck, that’s what life is about. Where can you go that you can grow into the person that you’ve always been trying to be? And if you had to take away everything in your life, where would you go on your first night out?

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One Response

  1. If I’d been in jail for a significant amount of time, BSU would be in the top 10 of places I’d go but my…. Social agenda would be #1.

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