I’m turning into one of the people I really don’t want to be.
I go to a college that, amongst the few who know it (it’s a tiny school), is regarded as academically excellent, if not somewhat intellectually elitist. I started in August swearing that I, the public-school educated, working-class girl I am, would not become ‘like that’.
I find my father’s jokes and puns horribly…sophomoric. I’m embarrassed by the amount of TV he watches. I cringe when I see the books my mom is reading: Nearly all of them are “Oprah’s Book Club” books, or flaky mysteries that boast they were #3 on the NYT Best-Seller list. It’s all pop-lit.
My college also, by neccesity, is really expensive. There’s excellent financial aid for those who need it, but there are also people who’s parents write a $40k check every year, no sweat. I know that at least one of my classmates could write that check himself, if needed: he’s from serious money. And then, I come ‘home’ to our house. Old, always in need of repairs. Our sun-room is incredibly drafty: rather than replacing the windows, my dad sealed them up with a layer of heat-wrap. The outside desperately needs repainting. We have framed nature posters we got in gift shops of National Parks as the art in our living room. We have no leather furniture. In short: It’s a nice house, comfortable, but clearly, the folks who live here aren’t rolling it in.
And I resent that. I’m embarrassed by the fact that my parents raised me to always buy the generic brand of everything. I’m embarrased by the fact that I do not have any car, to say nothing of a new one. I’m embarrassed by the fact that sometimes my parents are more frugal than they need to be.
I hate the fact that I care so much about that. I’m 18 and I’m turning into a yuppie. I shouldn’t care this much about money, or about appearances.
Hey NinjaChick. Er…I’m in the exact same pickle as you, so not much advice here. But I’m slowly re-thinking things and wondering if maybe money, culture and taste aren’t everything. And maybe you don’t have to be an academic to be smart, and so on…
I’m in a very similar situation, raised by a lower middle class family surrounded by upper middle/lower upper class folk, but I’m not so sure it’s just a phase for me. I know I’m not more important than Joe Shmoe, neither are you, but Joe Shmoe is also pretty fucking stupid. My parents aren’t terribly intelligent (I love them to death, of course), I see working class morons all the time simply going out in public, and worst of all, “The Pacifier” was the #1 movie in the country last week. I’ve always been a humble person, but I really don’t think it takes much accomplishment for it to be easy to look down on many of those around us.
Give it five years. You’ll be amazed how smart they get. What was it Twain said? “When I was eighteen I couldn’t believe how stupid my father was, when I was twenty five I couldn’t believe how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
It takes no accomplishment at ALL. Being an undergrad is not an accomplishment. What it takes is being a jackass.
Don’t worry though; the jackass stage is temporary. All university students go through this; after you graduate and real life hits you like a ton of bricks, you’ll get over it PDQ. So will Ninjachick.
I’ll second this. I went through the same thing when I was in college, and I seem to recall my sister doing it, too. I was suddenly exposed to some more sophisticated people than I’d known in my little hometown, and my parents seemed terribly provincial after that. I made a few friends who were quite wealthy, and my parents seemed a little poorer, and their house a bit shabbier/tackier/less comfortable than it had seemed before.
It’s all relative, and it will pass. I had to readjust my world-view a couple of times, like when I graduated college and found that I was more dirt poor than I’d ever imagined possible. (Don’t mean to sound discouraging there; it served me right for getting two liberal arts degrees that basically guarantee a life of poverty. )
I think so too. God knows I became a snobby bitch for a semester when I first entered college. I turned up my nose at anything non-“highbrow” literature, music, and art.
And then I got over it. Took a more postmodern view of things, and just let myself enjoy things I liked even if other people looked down on me for it. I’ve even read a couple of books on Oprah’s Book Club–for pop lit, they were engaging and made me think, which is the important thing.
And NinjaChick? I understand the emotions about your parents’ house, but rest assured there are those of us who grew up “rich” who don’t look down on poorer people. Hell, I’m poor myself now!
Don’t worry; you’ll soon grow past this stage. You obviously want to. So you will.
I have encountered those who rarely read for pleasure—hell, reading a Harlequin Romance would be a step in the right direction. I have learned to admire any reading in individuals—too often people simply don’t read at all. So the fact that your mom reads . . . something . . . is a good thing, in my eyes. (Not that people who don’t read for enjoyment are, by default, not smart, but reading with ease puts one at an advantage in so many ways and should be encouraged.)
I also have associated with people who aren’t well-educated, wouldn’t be called all that “smart” even, but they have a great deal of wisdom and common sense. I can think of one girl, a former co-worker, who claimed to never have been a good student, (and when we went through work training I noticed how “simple” questions on tests were hard for her), but she was the sweetest, wisest, most wonderful person I’ve met in a long time. I can think of several other people who were quite similar to her—didn’t read much at all, had abysmal grammar at times, but were the coolest, most interesting, funny, insightful people. It takes all kinds.
I suppose I should identify more with your parents, since my daughter is also a college freshman; but I’ve been where you are too. (Although I do have framed national park posters on my living room wall. ;)) I’m *still *appalled at how much TV my parents watch, and the stuff they read, when they read at all. And my dad’s jokes are still sophomoric. But I’m not responsible for my parents’ choices of entertainment. If it makes them happy, so be it.
From what I’ve read in your previous posts, your college sounds like a Very Interesting Place. I recommend that you appreciate that you have the opportunity to experience it, despite your Humble Beginnings. I’d bet your rich classmates are far more likely to take it for granted than you are. And just don’t worry about the things in life that are truly not your fault.
Actually, you’re not humble at all. You’re an obnoxious asshole.
And you need to learn that there’s a difference between being privileged enough to have an education and being ‘pretty fucking stupid’. I come from a lower than middle class background, and now I live in a neighborhood no doubt filled with people like you. And you know what? They aren’t any smarter. They aren’t any better. In fact, I prefer hanging out with the people I grew up with. The kind of people who wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about what kind of car you drive, or how drafty your sun-room is, or whether what you enjoy reading would be approved of by the Harvard faculty. Rather, they care about whether you’re kind, good to your children, honest, and happy.
But what do they know? They’re just “Joe Schmos”, the lot of them apparently ‘fucking stupid’.
What is with Oprah’s book club? I have a hard time imagining how the people she normally keeps hooked on rape-murder-torture movie of the week crap handle it when she pushes Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende and Toni Morrison.