Signs of Innocence and Experience

In Poetry 2555 we’ve been talking about the duality of nature as it applies to the famous poetic volume Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake. Just as with the ecosystems Blake describes, there is a relationship between innocence and experience on every college campus.  Simple everyday habits reflect the relative innocence or inexperience that divide those who have lived here for longer than three weeks and the rest of us. For instance, the library that I tend to spend my time in is called the West 18th Avenue Library, right? Well maybe, if you’re a freshman like me. Everyone else is apt to call it the SEL, as that was its name for many, many years. Little signs like this pop up throughout the day as a constant song of my innocence.

Another prime example of a place where experience can spot innocence is in the clothes that the innocent wear. Now, this isn’t a comment on the style or fashion of the Class of 2020. Heavens knows that there isn’t a common consensus of ‘cool’ among first years. However, the Office of First Year Experience gave every incoming freshman the same two t-shirts. Those t-shirts are homing beacons for innocence. Something about wearing a homing beacon on my chest makes me tuck those two shirts down far into the bottom of my drawer. This takes me back to high school. I don’t know if it was just me, but the second I stepped foot into high school I stopped wearing any clothes that directly related to my old middle school.

What is it about these beacons of innocence that make us change what we say and how we dress? In orientation my group’s questions all revolved around how to not look like a freshman. There are articles written about avoiding freshman mannerisms. There are videos and twitter accounts dedicated to spotting freshman. But all of us have to be freshman. All of us need innocence to gain experience. So I’ve decided. Tomorrow I’m wearing my #new2osu shirt with pride, because what’s the harm. I can only get out of problems just by being a freshman once.

Update: I wore my shirt today, and someone asked if I was a sophomore. Maybe my innocence isn’t as flagrant as I once though.

-Wagner

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