Section: Opinion

Kenyon Q’s: Giving yourself credit and acting on your campus crushes

Dear Lauren,

How do you deal when all your friends seem smarter than you?


Smarter Than Me

Dear Smarter Than You,

My sincerest condolences. As a senior with fewer than 100 days until I’m forcibly removed from my New Apartment, I’m watching all my friends get jobs, receive grad school acceptances and earn distinction on their comps. I am, unfortunately, all too familiar with this feeling of inferiority.

First, I want to emphasize that your friends only seem smarter than you. While it may be true that your buddy in stats does better on the exams than you, it’s probably also true that you kicked their butt during your class discussion on Miltonic verse. So it’s all relative, and that’s something I’d keep in mind whenever you start feeling that way. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses — even though most days it feels like we have a monopoly on the latter.

Recognizing my friends’ talents and accomplishments has always helped me address my feelings of inadequacy. When I acknowledge what they’re doing, I come away knowing that I’ve done my job as their friend. My time (and yours) will come, even if that time seems impossibly far off. Celebrating the people I care about when it’s their time has always felt really productive for me.

After that, you should step back and appreciate your own skills. While praising others is an important act of humility, giving yourself due credit is also in order. And just as your genius friends make you better by virtue of their presence, you make them better, too.

Having friends who inspire you isn’t a bad thing. Sure, sometimes your self-confidence will take a hit, but just remember that they probably feel the exact same way.

Dear Lauren,

What’s the best way to ask out my crush?



Dear Crushing,

Ah, the age-old quandary. I’m glad that you want to know the best way to go about it, not whether to go about it at all. You’re already on the right track.

I know the peril in asking someone out and suffering rejection. Because at Kenyon, of course, you will see them everywhere: in line for hash brown triangles! On Middle Path as you book it to your 9:10! At your Olin study spot that you thought no one else knew about!

My go-to is a Wiggin Street Coffee date. It’s casual, there’s caffeine and the whole thing could be purely platonic. For best results, message them on Facebook because you don’t have their number, ask them if they’d “like to get coffee sometime,” slam your laptop shut and dive under your duvet. Emerge in a few hours, even though you know they’ll see the message in a matter of minutes.

Then there’s the classic ask-them-on-a-study-date-that-they-have-no-idea-is-a-date. I’ve had less success with this method, for obvious reasons. But it’s still worth a try, especially if the idea of getting coffee is still too big a step. For best results, catch them after class and tell them you have no idea what to do for the next exam. Come prepared to the rendezvous with a study guide that you offer to share out of the goodness of your heart.

If all else fails, you could just settle for a quick dinner on New Side together. (Kidding. Unless of course Peirce is serving panko fried rice, in which case you should reconsider. For best results, find them at a square table before all their friends arrive.)

What are your burning questions? Don’t know what to do about your hookup’s return from a semester abroad? Trying to rein in reactions to out-of-control email threads? This week Lauren is substituting for Hannah Lee, but submit your questions to her anonymously on or over email at and she can offer the written equivalent of a hug.


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