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Seeing Illness As An Attribute

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Written by Isaac Davis

It’s that time of the year. Palms are clammy, health services are quarantining and demand for soup and Sudafed has never been higher. In our sun-starved condition, the only power we have left is to positively frame our winter ailments.

You are not alone: look left – running noses, hacking coughs – look right – pallid skin, lifeless eyes. These are your people, a new, eclectic social group you haven’t even had to work for. Vast expanses of common ground have opened up: get to know someone.

Along with sweats and shivers you now have limitless ammunition for excuses. Some nasty symptoms are a great step toward a professor accepting late work or waiving an absence. You can even expect a “get well soon.”

Flip it round, what better way to gain some respect and sympathy than soldiering on through your daily routine with brash disregard for your own (or others…) health? You cannot help but empathise.

This effect carries through academics to lifestyle and appearance. Spend all day in bed, binge watch, wear the same pyjamas night and day for a week. It is a rare luxury to have such consistent sedentary behaviour, poor hygiene and total self-centeredness praised and accepted. Illness is fleeting social loophole, spinning societal constraints on their axis.  

Arguably most important is that, at some point, you’re going to get better. Over-suffocating-congestion and fields of Kleenex is a horizon, a door back to the everyday vitality you took for granted. Casual disease provides a character building hardship for the everyday college undergraduate. There no need to escape the campus bubble, this is an opportunity that can come to you: fit into that cramped New Hall single and share your schedule. Take some medicine, settle in, and enjoy the ride.