So I just finished reading all 700+ pages of Tom Wolfe’s “I am Charlotte Simmons” and frankly, it’s tragic. The novel is obviously modeled after Duke and some other private, large universities and portrays guys as status seeking, frat-culted, sexual predators and girls as attention and approval seeking sex and image slaves, so completely absorbed with the idea of “effortless perfection.” And there is a lot of truth to this superficiality, the hookup culture, and lemming-likeness of our generation… but what made this novel so tragic is that in the end the main character, Charlotte, so bright and intelligent and different, wound up giving in, and I’m not even sure she was aware of it. I’ve always held on to some hope that below this stereotypical blanket that defines many universities and our generation in general, you can still find real people, gems amongst the rocks, who are proud of their identities, don’t put up facades, mask their emotions, cave in to peer pressure or what is “cool” sort of “what you see is what you get.” I know everyone doesn’t fit the stereotype… that’s why Tom Wolfe’s novel got under my skin… he portrayed the kids that “fit” and the ones that didn’t fit… and the latter he depicted as some sort of outcast desperate to find a way to “fit.”
Goodness gracious… I never thought individuality could be so rare and precious… do all you can to maintain it, and your personal morals and values as well. I vow to maintain what makes me Vanessa… wearing running clothes way too much, not really that interested in the whole party/drinking thing, (make-up and high shoes still scare me), maintaining perspective about the balance between work and people, going on adventures and getting muddy just because it’s fun, and following my passions more so than pursuing what is “expected” of me, or looks good on a resume, or will make me the most “successful,” or holding off my life in the present for some dubious date in the future when “things will be different.” (just a little insight, most of the time this future date is exactly that – always in the future!)
I don’t take a lot of aspects of my life for granted anymore… so I’m focusing on the present and being a little more spur of the moment and proactive in maintaining meaningful relationships with people… I’m trying to make every day of my life a rich experience and learn as much as I can from adversity, and emotionally challenging times. And I’m not going to hold back expressing sadness, fear, joy, anger, or any emotion, because these feelings make us human and come together to form the experience that is life.
I just feel so lucky to be alive, life is so rich, such a gift, so incredibly amazing conceptually and scientifically… don’t get so caught up in anything that you forget that!!
Sochat, Vanessa. "I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe." @vsoch (blog), 27 May 2007, https://vsoch.github.io/2007/i-am-charlotte-simmons-by-tom-wolfe/ (accessed 20 Mar 23).