One poorly formatted email from Dean Allen Groves can change everything. Every year, Housing and Residence Life successfully exploits their student laborers into processing hundreds of Lawn applications, and yours stuck out — you’re going to be on The Lawn next year! Congratulations! As I sit in my rocking chair and listen to the dull roar of ramp construction, I figured I would share some of the lessons I’ve learned over my time living on this illustrious academical turf. Follow my advice and next year you’ll peak in college.
1. Don’t put yourself in a box.
After condensing yourself into a 600-word resume, it can be easy to think that U.Va. only values you for your involvements. Do they care about you as a person, or have they just reduced you to your leadership position and commodified you into a selling point for the school? Either way, you’re more than your extracurriculars — although it is a bit weird that every person who’s held your leadership position has gotten a Lawn room. Be yourself. Don’t allow the University to put you in a box. No matter how alluring that box may seem. Even when they fasten your name to the door of the box. Even when you realize you worked for years and voluntarily applied for a chance for U.Va. to put you in a box.
2. The grass is always greener on the other side.
Midway through the year, maybe you’ll wish you had a larger room, or maybe you’ll want a smaller room so that it would appear that you have more friends. Maybe you’ll wish you were on the East side, enjoying the quiet with various deans — maybe you’ll wish to be on the West side, as various deans attempt to quiet the enjoyment. This is normal. The grass is always greener on the other side, as they say. And this year, you have the privilege to live in a space where this old saying is also literally true. Just like your excitement about your room, the pleasant-colored grass outside your door will fade, and it might start to look better across the way. This could be a moment to reflect on why you’re never satisfied. Why do you always seek the next, better thing instead of focusing on what you have? Are all the things you’re working toward just arbitrary indicators of status, as meaningless as a cramped, toilet-less room? Thankfully, the University's illimitable mind-freedom found a way to totally avoid such self-reflection. Pretty soon, Facilities Management will come by, utterly destroy the space outside your room, and months later replace it with thousands of dollars’ worth of artificial, carpet-like sod. Voilà, your grass is the greenest! Now, just apply this same superficial strategy to your internal doubts and you’ll be fine. Phew, that was a close one. What was the point of that dumb old saying, anyway?
3. Get ready for clout.
The only people who love Lawn rooms more than administrators who need to retire are secret societies. Now that you have a Lawn room, you’re instantly more worthwhile to these groups. — but don’t worry, they also really value you as an individual. If you’re still trying to get tapped, this is your (room’s) time to shine. Some groups like the Z Society already have 9 Lawn rooms in the bag, but don’t worry, you still have a chance, 10 sounds way better than 9 in their alumni newsletter. Other groups like the IMPs actually wait to take new members until after the list of Lawnies comes out, just to ensure that they always have a room. Congrats! You now have a 1/47 chance of getting tapped! But again, if it happens, it’s totally because they like you as a person.
4. Get used to talking with tourists.
The Lawn is a public space, and you can expect strangers to walk by you and talk about you every day as if you’re an exotic creature in a zoo exhibit. Perhaps they’ve heard about Lawn rooms on a tour. If so, they’ll congratulate you for being one of the best students at the University. “What an honor!” they’ll say. “You must really be something!” they’ll add. “You are the greatest person I’ve ever met!” they might think. They’ll often follow up with “What are you involved in?” (see #1). If you’re at all humble, you might politely shake your head and say that you’re just lucky to be here. After a while, though, it’ll get to you, but since you’re such a great student you shouldn’t have trouble finding a cure for your new-found imposter syndrome. If you have so little self-awareness as to accept such exaggerated compliments, don’t worry. You’ll enjoy living on The Lawn just fine.
5. Have fun.
In all seriousness, enjoy The Lawn. Living among 54 bright peers is special, and never again will you have the opportunity to live in the heart of Grounds, serve as the face of the school and spend the entire year coming together with your neighbors to complain about it.
Zach Schauffler is a Humor Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.