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Davis, California

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Just A Small-Town Girl

Ha. Haha. I bet you’re gonna have that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Now that your darling heads are ringing with the sweet sounds of an arena rock classic, I can delve right into my main point: Some of us are weaksauce.

I hail from the Bay Area. A freakish number of you hail from the Bay Area. Few of us have actually ever partaken in the phenomenon that is ghost riding. Many of those not from the Bay still hail from fairly affluent areas – Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento. In my experience, I’ve found that the average UCD undergrad is financially sound enough to gas up their car, pay their rent and make a phone call home.

California has the largest gross state product in the United States, largely thanks to Silicon Valley. Hollywood isn’t exactly slacking on bringing in the money, either. So we’re the wealthiest state in the wealthiest country. That’s pretty spiff.

Essentially we’ve grown up in an environment of prosperity, and probably one that gives off false illusions of the average American lifestyle. Growing up in the Peninsula easily puts you within less than an hour’s drive of Genentech, Yahoo! and Apple. Chances are your parents or someone they know work for a similar company. Everyone and their mother seems to have a Prius. It’s not hard to understand why kids growing up in such a place could come to have deluded perceptions of reality. MTV shows that feature high schoolers taking weekend trips to Mexico on their parents’ tabs don’t exactly downplay our expectations. And I’m sure we’ve all known someone who crashed their Beamer in high school who just got a new one, no problem.

But I also know students who work their way through college, who have to take quarters off because they can’t afford tuition, whose parents either cannot or will not help them. I know students who are the exception to the norm in their families in going to college at all. It’s these kids who have come to make me realize that most don’t realize how good they have it.

For months of our high school lives, it was all about APs, SATs and UCs. Maybe you prayed for a Stanford admission letter after your nightly Hail Marys. Now that you’ve made it this far, maybe you’re praying for a schweet job. Good luck; the economy is shit.

Yes, you want a good job so you can take care of yourself and have all the good things in life, like bottles of Cristal and matching Corvettes with your boo. But a part of it is also the desire to reach the same heights that your parents have and to maintain what they’ve bestowed upon you. It’s old-fashioned social pressure. You’re a product of your environment and you want to keep it that way.

A million people could say a million things to analyze this common situation. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end. Life sucks and then you die. I want to say that if you’ve come this far, you’ve done pretty damn good, but don’t forget to consider the advantages you’ve had.

I’ve also lived in rural New Hampshire in a town where, like tons of other places in the States today, the average person simply aspires to graduate from college and get a job. There are people all over the place who work multiple minimum-wage jobs and live in trailers.

I’ve had friends who were afraid to walk through the Tenderloin district in San Francisco. As much I know I shouldn’t judge them for being sheltered, people like this need to get real. I find it ironic that so many kids are dying to study abroad in foreign countries (read: Getting wasted in Switzerland to “broaden their horizons”) when they’re not even prepared to walk through an urban city neighborhood. And why are people twisting their panties so much over conflict in Gaza thousands of miles away, when there are people starving in their own hometowns? A part of it is that we largely have the media to thank for that: It’s what we see on the news that we deem important. The old adage rings true: Out of sight, out of mind.

Ultimately, it’s no one’s fault that our generation has been allowed to become so jaded. But next time you hear someone whining incessantly that they went over their texting limit and their parents won’t intervene, feel free to reach across the table and let your hand come into contact with their cheek.

It’s not a slap, it’s a high-five to the face.

 

MICHELLE RICK is comfortable in knowing that there’s no shame in rocking out to Journey. Cheer or jeer at marick@ucdavis.edu.

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