by Christopher Jeske
Staff Who Am I
This first semester, I am enrolled in a sociology class that focuses on the topic of transitions to adulthood. I hold serious doubt that the powers that be here at Fordham University could have found a more topical course for a person of my age and place. However, I am fantastically overwhelmed by the way this class’s material seems to methodically bombard me. I was most notably taken aback by a recent lecture on Erik Erikson’s theory of life crises. In his examination of this theory, Erikson explored the concept of identity discernment -- hence the term identity crisis.
For the majority of my short time here, I have been experiencing something of an identity crisis. It has become abundantly clear to me that finding oneself in one of the world’s most populous cities is no small task. Just ask Kevin McCallister, the Chicagoan adolescent who in 1992 found himself hopelessly “Lost In New York,” in more ways than one.
It all started on the first day of orientation. Being thrown into a random collection of my peers brought me face to face with the realization that there is nothing significantly special about me. There is no defining characteristic to my personality. I'm just another kid wearing J. Crew© and Polo®, paying a ludicrous amount of money to go to a school in a city that I know next to nothing about. “How am I going to set myself apart?” I thought, sitting there on Eddie’s, my legs in criss cross applesauce formation. I took my complimentary Fordham baseball cap out of my drawstring orientation bag and put it on backwards. Excited for the new offers of friendship that I felt my unique fashion decision deserved, I looked around happily. To my dismay, my grinning face was met only by blank stares into cellular devices. At that moment, I knew I had a challenge ahead of me.
Later that night, I walked out of my dormitory alone in search of companionship and belonging. Fortuitously, I stumbled into a dense cloud of second hand smoke. As the fog cleared and the reaches of my vision increased, I couldn't believe my eyes. Upwards of a dozen of my classmates sat before me, socializing harmoniously. I immediately knew what I had to do.
I must admit, I am quite adamantly against tobacco consumption. However, in that moment it seemed evident to me that I had to disregard every Truth commercial I had ever seen in order to make some lifelong friends. And I did just that. Coolly, I approached a young man dressed dashingly in Vineyard Vines®. “This guy has the look!” I thought to myself. I fear I may have accidentally verbalized that thought, for the face he made when I kindly asked “May I grip a cig?” resembled something between disgust and fear. The gentleman handed me the cigarette and turned away, continuing the conversation he had been engaged in before my interruption. Disgruntled, I walked around the group of smokers, my cigarette unlit.
Following sixteen minutes of pacing, a girl called to me, “Need a light?” “This is great,” I thought, “my first friend!” Nodding cordially, I moved towards her and placed the cigarette in my mouth. The flame of her lighter grazed my cigarette and I inhaled. But in that single breath, I felt a family wrecking cancer seep into the previously uncorrupted tissues of my lungs. The thought of my insurance premium raising nauseated me to my core. My body began to spasm violently, my neck jerked, and then, involuntarily, vomit flowed through the air, engulfing my first ever cigarette before falling, in all its disgusting sogginess, onto this poor girl’s white Supreme® sweatshirt. In a frenzy of laughter and embarrassment, I ran back into my room, where I have been practically ever since. I am still not too sure who I am, but now I know for a fact that I am not a smoker.