‘A Day in the Life’ Column: Exploring pigeonholes

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Lehigh University is a school of pigeonholes.

I am only a sophomore but already, I see the distinct clusters we’ve categorized people into: tall or short; white or black; smart or dumb; rich or poor; student or faculty; American or international; Greek or non-Greek. Although these labels may seem like harmless observations to some, these oversimplified images and ideas can have a profound effect on the way we view others. Very often, they actually cause a huge divide between different groups on campus, which in turn can cause a perpetual feeling of choosing between different middle school cliques.

But what if there was a way to bridge that seemingly growing divide? What if there was a way to promote inclusivity and mindfulness on Lehigh’s campus through a different type of forum?

I’m searching for an answer to these questions, and therein is the reason for my project.

Nadine Elsayed

Nadine Elsayed

For the next few weeks, I will be embarking on a journey I’ve titled “A Day in the Life.” In this special series, I’ll choose to focus on a specific group on campus and reach out to just one person. Could it be you? Who knows. Through interviews, shadowing, and a whole lot of conversation, I hope to learn more about this person and their experiences at Lehigh in order to present to you a genuine and wholehearted account of a day in their life.

Sometimes, I’ll wander around campus and think about the people walking by. We’re only passing strangers, humans who overcame the urges of the Lehigh look-away and actually gave a smile or a considerate nod. Although those are random fleeting moments and we see ourselves as strangers, we’re actually very much the same. My belief is that everyone has a story, and this column will attempt to tell those stories.

It can be difficult to realize just how vivid everyone else’s life can be. The boy waiting beside you at the bus stop has just as many stresses on his mind as you do. The girl in front of you in line at Johnny’s has an array of emotions and feelings just as vibrant as your own. Your professor has dreams and ambitions just as hopeful as yours.

We don’t often realize that, though.

We’ll see the boy as just one more person you have to squeeze next to on the bus. We’ll see the girl as just one more sandwich ahead of yours. We’ll see the professor as just one more obstacle between you and that easy A.

And so with this column, my attempt is to modify the way we view other people by giving you the chance to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. If I can give you a snapshot of someone else’s life — with all of those same routines and worries and vivacity of life included — then maybe we’ll start to extend our consciousness to the people around us. Maybe we’ll start to be more open-minded and kind. Maybe we’ll start to become a more unified and inclusive Lehigh University.

Although I do mean for this to be the most sincere and unbiased column, I already see the Yaks forming in the minds of those I could possibly offend:

“But how does one person represent a whole group?”

“Glad to know Nadine can make generalizations about me without ever meeting me. Gosh, she just totally and absolutely sucks a whole lot.”

Before up-voting that Yak, please understand that this series isn’t meant to make sweeping generalizations. I realize that conjuring inferences from just one specific person or case cannot speak for an entire group or population. That is not what I mean to do. Explaining one person’s story shouldn’t detract from the authenticity of another person’s story.

Rather, I want to give you a view — with a front-row seat, actually — into the life of someone you may not ever come across or get the chance to think about. Whether it be that they are not in your same classes, your college, your friend group, or even your daily routine, this is a person that you can learn more about simply by reading this column in the Brown and White.

If something in this series resonates with you, act upon it. Reach out, start discussion and share your thoughts. Conversation is a part of this project, too.

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