It’s become an epidemic across college campuses everywhere, save for a few alternative liberal arts schools where the required diet is granola and kombucha. Though also dangerously contagious and nearly inescapable, I’m not referring to the pink eye everyone in your freshman year dorm contracted, nor am I describing the dreaded Mononucleosis easily passed along through various forms of saliva swap.
The epidemic I’m referring to is that of the “Basic.”
The Basic falls second behind “Frat Star” in the ranking of most common Student Transmitted Personas. Much like the flu, different strains of Basic come out every year. For example, Uggs and leisure jumpsuits defined the Basic of the early 2000s. The 90’s strain included symptoms like a fondness for Beanie Babies and overuse of plastic butterfly hair clips.
How might you determine if you’ve contracted the Basic? Professionals say that a good test to gauge whether you have the 2015 strain is to see whether you can name every song off Taylor Swift‘s 1989 in consecutive order. Welcome to New York, Blank Space, Style, Out Of The… oh no.
When you go to a school where every pair of Lululemon leggings is accompanied by a neutral-colored Longchamp tote, catching a slight case of the Basic is nearly inevitable. I was well aware of this before coming to school, and upon arriving to campus for my freshman year I was determined to avoid it at all costs. I’ve always been attracted to the Alternative and figured college was the perfect time to establish a unique identity—become a girl no one else could be or imitate.
Rules I set for myself were as follows: never use emoticons or abbreviations when texting, never wear anything monogrammed and never use a Mean Girls quote in everyday conversation. Purposefully expanding my music collection beyond the top 40 and spending a significant portion of my summer savings on bizarre thrift store clothing, I entered college a pseudo-hipster.
I remember the day I caught the Basic. During the fall of my freshman year, my theology professor was lecturing on unconditional love and played 20 minutes of Titanic as part of his lecture. Those 20 minutes of class left me in tears. I ran back to my dorm room and begged my roommate to watch the whole movie with me. Though she had seen it to the point of being able to recite every line by heart, she eagerly agreed. After finally reaching my peace with how Rose and Jack’s fate played out, I looked down with bloodshot eyes at the tissues thrown about our futon, wondering what to do next. Before I knew it, I was in Starbucks taking my first sip of what I now know as the Nectar of the Gods— the Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Fast forward a few years, and I now have a favorite Instagram filter (X Pro II). I wear Hunter boots every time my iPhone weather app forecasts rainy weather. One of the only times I’ve ever skipped class was so I could have a few extra hours to finish homework…so that I wouldn’t have to be in the library while The Bachelor was on that night. A couple of weeks after I paid $65 dollars to sit in the last section of T-Swift’s 1989 concert, I went to the One Direction concert and felt burning jealousy towards the 15-year-old who caught Harry Styles’ empty water bottle.
Recently, I caught a glimpse of myself in a Starbucks window. My reflection was dressed in an oversized flannel paired with purposely torn blue jeans. A gold necklace personalized with my initials engraved in cursive hung around my neck. I hadn’t done a very good job keeping my alternative agenda. I’ve caught the college Basic, and it doesn’t look like my PH level will be dropping anytime soon.