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Strictly Good Advice

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Strictly Good Advice,

How do I handle setbacks?


Hello Clarissa, and thanks for the question. Before I get on with the advice, I will paraphrase the usual disclaimer. I have no credentials or qualifications – really, none – and so I am neither credentialed nor qualified to help you with your problem. Talk to an opinionated expert if you find yourself contemplating a decision that might benefit from a little expert opinion. I will also say that Strictly Good Advice has been with you since the beginning. Think about that when an electronic flyer tells you that someone else is now taking anonymous questions for a new advice column. Think about who really has your best interests at heart.

It might help for the sake of the advice if I had some context – the kinds of setbacks you are experiencing, your usual strategies for managing similar issues, some information about your personality or your circumstances, etc. A little information would have gone a long way toward providing an adequate response. In the future you should also try and form your question more carefully. I don’t know what you consider a “setback,” and I won’t make any assumptions about what qualifies as “handled.” I hope you can believe that I say this not to be a snob, Clarissa; I mention the limitations on my ability to provide helpful advice so that you will be more understanding if I fail to address your concern adequately. I did it for my sake, too: it will be easier to proceed if I have some way to silence the natural urge toward unproductive self-discouragement that comes about whenever a reasonable goal becomes farther out of reach, i.e., whenever I have been “set back.”

If we consider the problems with the question (its omission of critical details, its weak grip on vocabulary) to be a setback, then we might say consider the setback successfully handled when the question is answered, despite the apparent obstacles. The first step towards handling my setback has already been taken: sharing the constraints under which the job is done will help me do it. Taking this communicative step gives me the peace of mind I need to work effectively and gives you the information you need to make good use of whatever work I present. This is important because you came to me for advice, and my options are to either give it to you at any cost or to let you take your questions elsewhere. So I will do whatever it takes to get you your advice. While it appears that my approach to this setback depends on an unhealthy trivialization of the challenge or the psychiatrically incredulous assumption that one can flip a cognitive switch and magically activate their productive capacity, doing “whatever it takes” is actually more reasonable than you might expect. In fact, we have already established the first thing that it takes: if it’s relevant to them, let other people know that there are specific reasons why it’s hard to accomplish the task you’ve obligated yourself to accomplish. The rest of this column will roughly characterize the remaining components of “whatever it takes.”

We have established that communicating your difficulties is essential, but it unfortunately does not make them go away. I must now choose to either (1) attempt to resolve these problems or (2) excuse them as beyond my control and plod along with my best effort. In my case this decision is easy to make: because this is an advice column and not psychological counseling, I will not be able to ask you to clarify or elaborate on anything you’ve already said. All questions are to be addressed as-is; a Socratic back-and-forth is out of the question. I’ve agreed to give anonymous advice, not to be an anonymous confidant/therapist. I don’t even have any information about you except for a name that I made up. So I must proceed knowingly within the restraints of the medium or else let my readers lose their faith and start getting their advice from potential undesirables on the Internet. I value and respect my readers. Thus, to address the dilemma presented at the beginning of this paragraph and carry on with the advice, I will go with option (2): I will excuse myself of conditions beyond my control and trudge forward.

This is easier said than done. Because I can’t guarantee that the environment in which my advice comes about will be perfectly conducive to good advice, I can’t guarantee that my advice will be good. This troubling fact has me racked with harmful reservations; how can I, in good conscience, continue to advertise my Strictly Good Advice if it might be Strictly Middling Advice? How can I, lacking basic self-confidence, carry on sneak attacking the Daily Gazette when I don’t even believe that my own work is any good? I will dismiss these questions by recourse to the previous paragraph, in which I resigned myself to plodding. If I accept that I am mechanically satisfying the bare minimum of necessary tasks with only whatever creativity is most readily available, I can skip the agonizing reflection that naturally follows when I assume full responsibility for my actions. Be careful that you only plod to the degree that it helps you overcome your obstacle. Otherwise, you risk regression into toddlerhood or robotic indifference – neither of which is a good look on the readership, whom I hold in high esteem.

After you have done enough plodding, the hope is that your initially confounding circumstances – or your perspective on them – will change. I have observed that as time goes on, memories lose their sensatory content, remaking themselves into words and concepts in my aging mind. This is a descriptive rather than normative claim, and I am unprepared to argue in its defense. My point is that, viewed in retrospect, how you feel often becomes less important than what you feel. Tactile discomforts become vague while socially informed abstractions take center stage. And the less descript your recollection of physical phenomena gets, the easier it becomes to deal with the fact that you were stuck in the mud. Eventually you regain your confidence. The setback has been successfully handled. You may now package your misfortune into a thoughtful, if kind of nebulous question, and send it to your favorite advice columnist.

In need of some strictly good advice? Send a question by electronic mail to strictlygoodadvice(at)gmail(dot)com (your name will not be included in the column unless by request), or by snail mail to the author at 500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, PA, 19081.

Strictly Good Advice

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Strictly Good Advice,


What are some tips to keep life exciting?




Hello, Bertram, and thanks for the question. Before we proceed with the advice, I will remind our readers everywhere that Strictly Good Advice is, legally and ethically, an entertainment column. Whatever practical wisdom results from its consumption is a product/responsibility of the reader’s critical license; inform this license with the expert opinion of an actual professional before making life decisions with serious consequences.  


When you ask for tips to keep life exciting, I imagine you are asking about some action that you can regularly and easily take to increase the excitement you derive from some everyday behavior. I will not consider material acquisition in this class of actions — while a tour de force of the Croatian nightclub scene or some convincing knockoff Supreme is likely to spark thrills, I believe that one’s access to excitement should be independent of one’s financial standing or tastes in consumer goods. So among the conventionally exciting things that will not be included in my strictly good tips for keeping life exciting are backpacking, electronics, fashion, restaurants, bar crawls, romantic getaways, cultural events, jetskis, extreme sports, running for public office, and drugs. Instead we will investigate the efficacy of some immaterial lifestyle choices. A salient example would be sprinkling alliterative sentences into your standard-issue prose. That is something I do as regularly as possible to keep my own life exciting. I will skim a couple of popular options for sustained kicks as well as their caveats, and then present a tactic that I employ in my personal life.


On one view, excitement requires something like a regular booster shot of “Wow!” juice to the head; in this framework the potential for excitability depends on the satisfaction of goals. When I use the word “goals” I don’t necessarily mean productive goals. I could refer to something as basic as the meeting of a biological urge (a long piss, a long overdue meal) or something constructed and complicated (a promotion, a date with tennis champion and maternity phenomenon Serena Williams) and the phrase would mean the same thing. It is at least a little exciting to correctly execute life functions. Correctly execute the most life functions and it follows that you will be the most excited. The problem with this schema is that it is hard to tell which goals are truly exciting to meet and which goals merely appear exciting to meet. The satisfaction of certain goals may require submission to more tedium or suffering than they are worth, and if you can’t make this judgment immediately, you will unknowingly work toward goals with no prospects of net excitement.


Another idea is that excitement requires something like a satisfaction of a death drive. Driving at ludicrous speeds instead of normal speeds would, in this respect, be exciting. There is a physiological basis for this phenomenon, but I will defer to the academic literature on that matter. The takeaway is that if you subscribe to this epinephrine-contingent theory of excitement, then you should be as close to dying as possible for as much of your time alive as possible. Stray from the sidewalk and skip through the middle of the road. Take the stairs up and down in increasing integer multiples at a time. Send an adoring letter to tennis champion and maternity phenomenon Serena Williams. Constantly be risking as much as possible so that no matter how meager the rewards your actions warrant, each tiny movement forward feels like a successful triumph of life over death, immense pleasure over incredible pain. I do not recommend this approach, but it is out there for the more reckless personality types among the readership. I will say that, in carefully measured doses, risk-taking can be a renewable source of free excitement. The problem with accepting this claim is that moderation itself is not very exciting. Ice cream is exciting in any volume, but eating an appropriate amount of ice cream with appropriate frequency has a self-flagellating aftertaste. At this point it looks as if our only options as mortals seeking excitement are to live on the precipice or to freeze ourselves in baptist penance. I believe there is a workaround to this existential dilemma.


It is easier to deal with issues of outlook than with issues of action. Your opinion on social issues can change as a result of reading or conversation, but your physical habits and actionable tendencies can resist lifetimes of cognitive behavioral therapy. In that vein, I suggest we shift our focus from changing and adopting excitement-conducive actions toward a new perspective on the nature of excitement. Test out this maxim: everything that happens is exciting until proven boring. Waking up, waiting rooms, bumper-to-bumper traffic — any possible arrangement of atoms could speak to your sense of excitement. It may not, but the implied necessity of thorough investigation and trial will make it harder to abandon your assumption. If you have trouble rewriting your personal legislation, you may consider the argument sketched in the following paragraph. I have found it especially useful when I have doubts about the fundamentally exciting nature of ordinary life events.


Human life at its most boring is the labor of trillions (yes, trillions) of cells with operations as complex as any human city. It is intuitively plausible that among the trillions of thousands of interactions taking place, at least one of them is exciting. If none of them could possibly be exciting, no scientist would find excitement in her job observing and analyzing these interactions in some capacity. It is intuitively plausible that there is at least one scientist who finds her work exciting. In fact, I know a scientist who finds her work exciting, so there must be one. I accept, then, that any aspect of human life has at least one exciting thing about it. So I have no problem imagining that, insofar as its exciting qualities are relevant, anything has some exciting quality. That is not to say that every scene in the quotidian mess of life is anything like a light lunch or maybe early dinner with tennis champion and maternity phenomenon Serena Williams. What I mean to say is echoed in Mary Poppins, the only work of musical theater that hasn’t sparked in me the desire to do a bad thing to an innocent person. “In every job that must be done,” Ms. Poppins says, “there is an element of fun.”


In need of some strictly good advice? Send a question by electronic mail to strictlygoodadvice(at)gmail(dot)com, or by snail mail to the author at 500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, PA, 19081.


Eight things Specs Should Know before Choosing Swat

in Op-Eds/Opinions by

For all its eccentricities, strengths, and flaws, I really love Swarthmore. It is a quirky, nerdy, beautiful place full of amazing people —some of whom I’ve met already, others whom I’m excited to one day meet. It’s true, Swat is not for everyone: it’s a combination of exquisite niches that will either make you absolutely fall in love with it or hate it. So, I talked a bit with some of my friends here at Swat and compiled a list of things we all wish we knew, or feel like Specs should know, before coming to Swarthmore.

It’s small size can be either one of its greatest strengths or greatest weaknesses. The college’s small size fosters an incredibly close-knit sense of community. Since everyone knows everyone, we all look out for each other, and we see each other everyday! However, this also means that you see all the people you’d rather not see everyday. Being a small campus also means that if you like to have things bustling 24/7, this is not the place for you. That’s not to say Swatties don’t make their own fun. From guitar circles to plays to Lang study breaks (free food!), there is usually always something to do on campus, even if it doesn’t seem like it most of the time.

It’s as much work as people say. It’s true that Swatties are huge nerds. Only a huge nerd would choose to go to a school with so much damn work. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the constant feeling of “it’s study time” for the majority of the day. However, if you really love the work you’re doing, then it’s usually worth it.

Swarthmore’s not perfect, but there’s a large space for activism. As liberal and forward-thinking as people make Swarthmore out to be, this place has some problematic aspects. However, these usually serve to show the resolve and persistence of activism among students on this campus as they stand up against the issues they have with the college and its administration.

Swarthmore will change you. You will discover things about yourself you never knew, some good some bad – some in between. This is an intense environment full of fascinating people. Don’t come expecting to leave the same person you came as.

This campus is on a hill— and you never get used to it.

You’ll sleep everywhere. When you’re only getting a solid 5 hours of sleep per night, you’ll make up for it in creative ways. Not only will you partake in the infamous McCabe nap, but you’ll find yourself falling asleep in an array of unique locations. I’ve probably fallen asleep in almost every academic building on campus (yes, that includes in and out of classes).

It’s not hard to make friends. Seriously, just go for it. Swatties may be notoriously awkward, but that’s part of what takes the pressure off. It’s super easy to grab a meal with someone you don’t really know well, so just ask! Swatties are interesting and friendly people so you shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to meet more of them.

It’s not as radical and weird as it used to be. The Swarthmore I heard of had orgies on Parish Beach and an annual Crunkfest (“A tradition that involved public nudity, hallucinogenic drugs, and public sex all taking place on Swarthmore’s campus” to quote a 2016 article in the Phoenix). However, as the administration has cracked down on various activities the craziness of Swarthmore’s past is less visible on campus. I have hope that with the collective effort of current Swatties and the incoming class of 2021, we can dare to make Swat wild again.

Instead of Calling, London Answers

in Campus Journal/London Calling by

“Why don’t boys ever ask me on dates?” — Blair Helena Strocht

Dear Blair,

The possibilities are endless. Maybe they don’t get you, or they’re intimidated by your looks and aesthetic, or maybe they haven’t been romantically socialized properly. If you feel like a change, there’s no harm in reinventing your look in a way you feel comfortable doing: everybody notices the effort that went into the fresh start of changing your hair, makeup, clothes, gait, accent, or name. If you dig it, maybe someone else will?

Honestly, the reason may well be that boys are dumb and often need a bit of help with these things. Have you considered trying to plant the idea in their head, in such a way they think they’ve come up with it? If you don’t think this boy even thinks of you romantically, you could find out what their ex-girlfriend used to wear, and put on a similar outfit on a day you knew you’d see him: visual association might drop a hint. To really get the full effect, imitate her laugh or vernacular, but that might be pushing it. Alternatively, if you think the boy already has a thing for you but just needs that extra push, become an agent of fate—play the role destiny would have had she been on your side. Create a fake AOL address and forward him (amongst other people, not to look suspicious) a mass email, urging those who read it to ask out the next person they see. Of course, you should sit across from him as he checks his email, which shouldn’t be a particular issue. For a more cinematic effect, get a friend to “accidentally” push you into the boy of your liking as he walks past, spilling hot tea over the both of you, and then dab off the steamy, fragrant liquid with the tissue you were clutching in your other hand for this purpose. If you stare into his eyes with enough intensity, he’ll probably offer to get you another beverage.

I understand this might be a lot of planning for an awkward couple hours sipping a coffee he’ll probably make you pay for anyways. It might be wisest in the end to count your blessings and enjoy the people who are already in your life, instead of waiting for more to show up.

“How can I stop intense emotions and a general fear of what the future holds from impeding my productivity? Should I try?” — Worried and Wistful in Willetts

Dear Worried and Wistful,

If you’ve ruled out upping your Klonopin dosage, I honestly don’t know whether there’s anything that will work for certain. Amidst your options, you could try and confront some of the situations causing intense emotion in order to find solace. If you’re in confusing territory with a partner, try to straighten things out and Define the Relationship™. If you have a big, fat ugly crush on someone, let yourself feel these emotions with some cathartic self indulgence—for me, that would be fantasizing about it with some chocolate, a bubble bath, and musical soundtracks. I tend to feel more clear headed afterwards. With regards to your future, taking concrete steps to organize and plan ahead the next few months to make it seem more concrete. Have you tried emailing a potential employer, or setting up a booty call for when you get back home?

Beyond this, you and your therapist are on your own. Emotions can suck, but at least they’re proof you’re alive. If you can, channel your lost productivity into a creative endeavor, like writing angsty poetry, jacking off on cam or making fun of yourself. Good luck!

“What do you do if the best sex of your life is off limits?” — Ice Princess

Dear Ice Princess,

This is a tough one. Assuming off limits is a hard category, I see a two-pronged course of action. On the one hand, you need to make sure that the option is still available when the situation reverses itself. Are they in a relationship, or maybe your best friend is in love with them? In the grand scheme of things, this is all temporary, and if the sex is that good you want to be an eligible bachelorette when circumstances change. This is a subtle process: smile warmly, but only when it’s right; touch their arm, but act surprised that you did it. You’re aiming for those fleeting moments of intimacy and tension that leave a lasting impression and keep you on their mind despite the circumstances. All of this, by the way, assumes that a direct method would be taboo: “Hey, I know things wouldn’t work right now but let me know if you wanna fuck when things change, ok?”

The other option to try in the meantime is recreating what made the sex so good with other partners, if possible. Did they give head like a god? Were they creative with their pacing? Did they hover inches from your face, lips ajar, for just the right amount of time? As much as you can’t fuck the person you like right now, you can ask your current partners to be more like them, under the guise of useful tips to get you off and healthy communication. Your last option is in your fantasies, so throw on a blindfold or just let your mind drift the next time you get laid. I personally think there’s something extremely glamorous to screaming out the wrong name during orgasm (as long as you aren’t with someone you’re particularly emotionally committed to), so I’d do it just for that.

I know none of this is perfect, but if the sex you’re missing really is that great, I don’t know what will be. :/

“It is morally dubious to sleep with a guy 85% because I admire his kayaking prowess?” — Class V Bitch

Dear Class V Bitch,

You’re asking whether it’s reprehensible to chose a sexual partner based on his display of upper body finesse as he maneuvers down a rapid using a glorified long, rigid rod? If he can work that paddle who knows what else he can do. Go for it.

An Expert’s Guide to Eating Alone in Sharples

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There’s a magical hour every day when Sharples is almost empty, but still serving food. During this time, a small group of upperclassmen appears, each individually laying claim to a coveted date or circle table. They know each other, but they only rarely say hi. They choose their side of the table carefully so that they don’t have to look at each other as they dissect their grapefruits. This strange act is called “eating alone” — and it’s wonderful.

The beauty of being alone in Sharples is, of course, that you’re not actually alone. There are people to watch or greet if you’re so inclined, and the comforts of coffee and tea are readily available. The bright, open space is a welcome venue for reflection and daydreaming, compared to the bleak, often anxiety-inducing dorm room setting. With a little low-key music in your headphones, would-be wallowing is transformed into a mix of melancholy and bemusement. Also, sometimes you get to see somebody trip or drop something.


But if you’re an underclassman — especially a first-semester freshman — heading to the dining hall can be intimidating. Sure, you’d love to have the confidence to just sit down somewhere and stare off into space emotionlessly as hundreds of your peers look on. But for those of you who aren’t quite there yet, it’s okay: we broke down how to handle it when you don’t have (or want) any friends. Trust us: stepping up to the challenge will be way better than that Clif Bar you bought in Sci Commons yesterday.

The trick to eating alone without feeling like a loser or being approached by well-meaning classmates is often the timing. The subtle influx of students, determined by class and team schedules, creates a regular flow. To get the most out of your alone-time, you should plan accordingly.


Best Quiet Times

Perks / Warnings


after the early birds leave for 8:30 class until the lunch rush at 11:20

Perks: Sunshine through windows, grapefruits and melon, sometimes donuts

Warnings: no hot food until 10:30


the tail end of breakfast, or after about 1:15

Warnings: People are most likely to try to come talk to you during this window


grandma-style at 4:30, or between 6:45 and 7:15, before the in-season athletes arrive

Perks: Get there early for your best chance of snagging a booth.

Warnings: You may have to sit uncomfortably close to other people.


Once you’ve selected your time frame, it’s time to choose your seat. For fans of the Big Room, the most coveted spots are the sunlit date tables or the circle tables, which offer optimal people watching as fellow students come in and out of the dining hall. In the side rooms, the booths offer the most privacy.

Another crucial factor here is making sure you’re not awkwardly face to face with someone at another table. Take, for instance, our breakfast seniors: they all sit on the same side at their date tables, facing the same direction. That way, there’s no risk that they’ll have to spend a potentially hours-long Sharples session trying not to make eye contact with someone as they bite into their bagel.

The final step? Take out some fake work. If your reason for eating alone is because you couldn’t manage to find someone to eat with, taking out work will help you avoid any unwanted attention for flying solo. If you’re one of the confident few who actually wants to be left alone, an open book almost always gets across the hint. Don’t worry, though — you don’t actually have to read it.


Advice for freshmen, from Swatties who learned it the hard way

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Your first year at college is a time for learning. And while you all, like me, have somehow weaseled your way into one of the most academically intense colleges in the country, I found that the majority of my learning last year happened outside of the classroom. Your freshman year at Swarthmore College will open you up to a whole slew of new experiences, both good and bad, and I hope that you will in some way learn from all of them. However, there were a few times in the last year that my fellow freshmen and I had to learn things that would have been helpful to know, right off the bat. With that being said, here is my compiled list of Advice for Freshmyn, from Swatties Who Learned it the Hard Way.

 1.     Sometimes, hallcest can actually work out.

2.     If you’re a NARP and you go to the gym any time between three p.m. and dinner, be prepared to share the few machines with many varsity athletes who can all run really fast and pick up heavy things.

3.     Sometimes the frats/Olde Club can get a little crowded. If people are invading your personal space, don’t be shy! Plant those feet and push them away.

4.     Speaking of frats, if you get bored at DU there is a room with a big couch on the side and an entire shelf of old yearbooks. A great way to pass the time while your friend gets hot and heavy on the dance floor is grabbing one at random, then guessing which of the old white guys in the book A) are on the Board of Managers, B) stopped giving money when Swarthmore got rid of its football team, or C) are even alive anymore.

5.     Make sure to assert your dominance over your roommate(s), so they don’t carry you outside and lock you out in the snow in only your underwear.

6.     Don’t leave your mouse traps set over vacations, unless you want your entire room and all of your clothing to smell like a dead mouse for the rest of the semester.

7.     If you want food from Paces and are trying to estimate how long it will take, follow this formula: think of how long it would take a restaurant or other reasonable institution to prepare your meal, then add two hours.

8.     If you ate microwave popcorn for breakfast, don’t also eat it for lunch. If you have eaten microwave popcorn for breakfast and again for lunch, definitely don’t eat it for dinner. Same goes for pop tarts and ramen.

9.     Did you wake up to your roommate having sex? Do not pretend to be sleeping. Avoiding confrontation might seem like a good short-term plan, but you will most definitely regret it when you wake up the following weekend to even louder moaning from a roommate who thinks you will sleep through it.

10. When masturbating, lock your door during, and unlock it right after. If you come home and your door is locked but your roommate is there, you know what is happening.

11. Beware of swooping, but also thank the gods of interrupted romance if you end up going home with somebody who has a single.

12. If you only hook up with one person for the entire first semester, just know that Swarthmore law dictates that they will be in your 8-person seminar in the spring.

13. If you find yourself about to lose your virginity in your best friend’s roommate’s bed, be sure to put a towel down, and double check that you didn’t leave your underwear.

14. The Sharples “two pieces of fruit” rule was made to be broken. Hoard that shit.


Seize the decade, not just the day

in Columns/If It Moves/Opinions by

Zac Arestad’s column last week plainly and jarringly posed a question that we, lucky enough to have a place in this gilded institution, have likely grappled with in one form or another: “Am I worth it?” Sure, we are some of the most hard working, talented scholars in the country, but with roughly half a million dollars invested in each of our educations, an immediate and certain “yes” is hard to conjure.

As many of us stand at or just past the gateway to our twenties, this question, I am sure, can be particularly raw. It stands directly against the growing “thirties are the new twenties” zeitgeist, in a time of our lives when thinking about the present comes easiest.

Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist from the University of Virginia, offers some much-needed advice regarding this challenging period in her book, “The Defining Decade”. Her counsel, however, is perhaps not the one we were hoping for. That said, my column this week, in a slight change of pace, is less a response to her findings and more an extension of the seemingly countless and ongoing conversations I have had with friends and family regarding the years to come.

Despite the numerous chapters in Jay’s book that seem exclusively tailored to twentysomethings of upper-middle class origin who use monetary compensation, heterosexual romance and procreation as barometers for success, her underlying message is one that I have come to agree with over my undergraduate years: the coming decade will likely be the most defining and transformative one of our lives and so warrants appropriate attention.

Though most of us probably won’t define our self-worth with a checklist of goals, the reality remains that the vast majority will both need and aspire to a healthy and fulfilling career, social and personal life. In that context, some of Jay’s findings can be particularly sobering: “80 percent of life’s most defining moments take place by about age 35. Two-thirds of lifetime wage growth happens during the first ten years of a career. More than half of Americans are married or are dating or living with their future partner by age 30. Personality can change more during our 20s than at any other decade in life… [and the] brain caps off its last major growth spurt.”

For me, the most important takeaway here, though perhaps both counterintuitive and not plainly implied, is that the voices that encourage us to spend time “finding ourselves” and accumulating as many experiences possible may in fact be steering us in the wrong direction. Contemporary psychological studies that attempt to re-evaluate the human source of happiness have, I believe, turned standard wisdom on its head.

Though it might be a hard pill to swallow, the research Dr. Jay cites convincingly overturns views that have become near hardwired in most twentysomethings’ brains. Keeping options open may in fact be closing doors, the people who care most about you might in fact be significant impediments to professional and personal growth and adult responsibilities likely lead to happiness and not stress.

Though many of Jay’s arguments are compelling, the book also contains an unwelcome dose of stereotyping, an inexcusably normative definition of happiness and assertions that are wildly out of touch with economic reality. But between the condescension and vague platitudes, there just might be enough to spur a little healthy introspection. My goal for this column is not to author a self-help article, but only to encourage a reconsideration of convention and popular culture surrounding this coming part of our lives.

Rough sex, hitting the elusive three and sex tapes

in Campus Journal/Columns/London Calling by


Why don’t boys like me? — LonelyGirl95

Dearest LonelyGirl95,

Are you really certain that’s the case? Love is a battlefield and sometimes words can’t communicate the horrors of war effectively. A radical approach to this would be to redefine your weapons of battle. Your armory doesn’t need to limit itself to these incisive questions you seem to be asking yourself so far — maybe what you need is an active plan of action. Instead of firing these queries at your friends and loved ones, you should be out there — on the battlefield — fighting for your autonomy and romantico-sexual satisfaction. You should empower yourself to win not just the battle, but the war, and for that you should charge head on into the dating minefield and conquer victory through active force.

How do I meet queer people at Swarthmore? — NotSoRadQueer101

Hey NotSoRadQueer101,

An obvious place to start with this would be to try and join queer life at Swarthmore (the Swarthmore Queer Union pops to mind), and chat to the people you meet there. A lot of queer groups on campus are closed, which means you’d only be around other queers. This in itself can be a bit daunting, but worry not! I’ve found they only bite when asked to. It may be a possibility that queer life isn’t for you, which is perfectly acceptable, and in that case you’ll have to find less traditional gathering spots. Some sports teams happen to gather the queer crowd (by which I mean, the women’s rugby team is gay as fuck) and you’re bound to meet a few in any given GenSex class. Beyond all this however, try and remember that queers are — gay gasp — kind of normal, and that there is no focal point that would work for everyone. If you’re struggling to meet queer people, maybe you’re not the kind of individual who would enjoy spaces oriented around them. For all you know, that friendly guy with the preppy checkered shirts from your psych class has been eyeing you all along.

How do I tell my partner I like it rough? — GagaQuoter94

Dear GagaQuoter94,

Sometimes, a fourth magic word makes the whole endeavour so much more difficult. After all, several things could go wrong if your partner happens to embody the imperial prude or is prematurely turning into one of my parents (read: frigid). Fortunately for all of us, that is rarely the case, and it should be a tenet of your healthy relationship that communication is free and open. If your partner doesn’t push the right buttons in the bedroom, it’s likely you’ll experience frustration and disappointment with the relationship as a whole — a bad situation in the long term for all parties involved. I would recommend realizing that telling your partner about your preference is the only way to progress in your relationship. Then, sit them down over coffee and lay it down calmly and with detail. They might even get a bit turned on.

What are the pros and cons of making a sex tape? — AspiringAmateur69

Howdy AspiringAmateur69,

This is definitely a decision that requires both sides of the argument being weighed out. If you’re a fan of an ironic trash aesthetic, joining the ranks of Kim Kardashian, Pamela Anderson and Paris Hilton is an illustrious honor indeed. In a way, it’s an expression of pride and bodily confidence, albeit a conceited one. Celebrating your sexual prowess in such a documented fashion also provides you with ample material to analyze your performance and give yourself constructive feedback. However, you need to consider your desired audience — chances are that seven years down the line when your publishing career starts taking off, those murky shots taken in a Mertz dingle might resurface to an undesired effect. Your boss might not be impressed with the feat, or maybe more dauntingly a bit too impressed. It would really come down to whether you trust your partner enough to save that file somewhere private, albeit close to heart.

How do I suggest a threesome to my girlfriend? — BoredButLoving77

Dear BoredButLoving77,

I can empathize completely with the desire to diversify your sexual outlets within a committed relationship. Sometimes, no piece of silicone can match the thrill that a new individual would bring into the erotic mix. I’d recommend avoiding language that’s too accusatory, such as the words “bored” or “frustrated,” to describe yourself, and instead focus on the shared thrill such an experience could add to your dynamic. You really want to channel your inner salesperson and convince your partner that they’ve actually been craving this all along. Of course, stay within the realms of suggestion — in no way should you coerce your partner into any sexual activity they aren’t comfortable with, regardless of your prior experiences.

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