My dorm room, where my roommate sat studying for her 8 a.m. anatomy exam was not the place. The hallway with the RA ready to snap at the sound of a whisper, let alone a telephone call, even when it isn’t quiet hours, was not the place.
The stairwell that so nicely amplified your voice for the entire building to hear was most certainly not the place – although too many people are not aware of this fact and for that reason I know just a few too many details about some of my neighbor’s personal lives then I would like to. (Please make note of this if you are one of these stairwell talkers.)
Finding a private place to have a conversation is nearly impossible when you live in extremely close proximity with thousands of other very nosy college students.
So where is the place for a private conversation? Where can you make that telephone call home or to your best friend when you don’t want the whole world to be involved? (Or at least not those couple people you desperately need to rant about.)
Outside is the place.
Outside isn’t exactly private like a bedroom. Kind of the opposite in fact. Anyone could see you or hear you or interrupt that precious minute when your mom’s voice first comes through to you.
But the thing is, when you are outside, it doesn’t matter. There could be thousands of people milling around you, there could be hundreds of conversations going on, buzzing in your ear, there could be dozens of thoughts about you, but all from strangers. In fact, all those strangers could be having their own conversation that they want nothing more than for you to ignore.
Unless you just happen to have won a national championship for the fourth year in a row…no one is going to stop you when you’re on the phone. You’re just not that cool (sorry).
When you are outside, nobody is going to understand what you’re saying. There is no one who is going to question you.
Who cares if a stranger hears the details of your most recent hospital visit as you explain them to your mother? It’s not like they even know your name and they’ll likely never see you again anyway. Who cares if a stranger sees tears running down your face, hears your voice crack and a sob escape your lips as all your attention is fixed on your dad’s voice coming through the phone?
Yeah maybe they notice, maybe they think you are crazy or (if they’re like me) maybe they are restraining themselves from giving you a big, warm hug, but the point is, what they know doesn’t really matter to you. Or it shouldn’t.
That stranger is going to do everything in their power to pretend that you are absolutely fine, or, if you happen to walk past a writer, maybe you’ll end up in their novel (or my column). Honestly, who knows what you could inspire.
When you are outside, you have the shield of anonymity. And when you’re in college, outside is the closest to private you’re ever going to get.
Julia Werth is the news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.