In our second senior wisdom today, Paulina Mangubat talks about memes and wise things.
Name, School, Major, Hometown: Paulina Mangubat, Barnard College, political science and East Asian studies, Phoenix, AZ
Claim to fame: In a past life, I worked for Spectator, where I appropriated the Bored@Butler “campus discourse” meme and transformed it into a branding strategy. Bored@Butler doesn’t exist anymore, so I’m not technically guilty of intellectual theft. I probably solicited an op-ed (or several) from you at some point in 2016!
In between all the op-ed solicitations, I also served as the co-president of Columbia University Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
Where are you going? I’m going to finish writing a TV pilot based upon my Spectator experience. It’s a dark comedy/murder mystery, and someone (not the opinion editor) dies within the first five minutes of the show.
What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2021?
1) Allow yourself to be starstruck. It’s true that everyone at Columbia is “just a normal person,” but it’s also true that we’re all doing really, really cool stuff. When I look at my friend group, I see a motley assortment of artists, dancers, scientists, astronauts, poets, shit-starters, activists, and everything in between. I’ll bet that your friend group’s the same way. So cheer for your peers! Read the shit they post on social media. Go to their shows. Hoot and holler when they walk into EC parties looking like a million bucks. Be utterly flabbergasted by their greatness.
2) Humor is good! There’s nothing that loosens up a tense situation quite like a well-timed pop culture reference. The Burlesque movie with Cher is an endless source of inspiration for me.
3) Columbia is home to a lumbering bureaucracy, huge egos, and recalcitrant campus leaders. I’ve no doubt sparred with all three during my time here. All of the roadblocks and hurdles can make you feel like your opinions don’t matter, and that even if they did, you wouldn’t be able to change anything around these parts. There’s no easy way to make a lasting impact on campus, but here are three quick recommendations:
“Back in my day…” The columbia buy sell memes page didn’t exist. It was a pre-Promethean era, and we lived without fire (meme content.)
Also, I wanted to be pre-med. That was pretty silly.
Also, Spectator’s editorial board was…better.
Okay, hang on just a second—let me be serious for a minute here. When I was a first-year, Emma Sulkowicz hadn’t yet launched “Carry That Weight,” the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement as organized by JVP and SJP hadn’t yet reached Columbia, Columbia hadn’t yet divested from the private prison industry, and Spectator hadn’t yet “cut the print.”
So much can happen in four years, but they go by quick. You need to hustle to make your mark.
Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: I’ve facilitated a lot of Bad Discourse™. But I’ve also facilitated a little bit of Good Discourse!
What was your favorite class at Columbia? Bwog loves Dorothy Ko, and so do I. Ko reminds me of Ms. Frizzle, if Ms. Frizzle was a Chinese lady obsessed with fashion and gender performativity. Anyway, I took both “Gender and Power in China” and “Body Histories: Footbinding” with Ko in the spring of my junior year. My views on gender, sex, and funky hats have never been the same.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? There’s nothing quite like some grated Parmesan on a freshly tossed salad. At least with cheese, people embrace the funk.
One thing to do before graduating: Buy a reusable water bottle! I didn’t get around to getting one until this semester, when I finally shelled out the cash for a Camelbak Eddy.
I want to complain about how expensive this water bottle was, but my skin is clear and my mood is relatively stable right now, so at least I know that it’s working. My point is, invest in yourself, and invest in your mental health.
Any regrets? I have a lot of regrets! If you don’t have regrets, then you’re probably not learning from your mistakes. Here are some off the top of my head: I regret not working out more. I regret allowing petty shenanigans to ruin close friendships. I regret initiating petty shenanigans. I regret passing up an opportunity to swim with humpback whales using Samsung virtual reality technology last weekend. I regret eating so many bagels and eating so few salads!
Mostly, I regret stopping myself from having fun so many times in college. I was a dweeby elementary school kid who became a dweeby junior high kid who then became a dweeby high school kid. I was so dweeby that my dweebiness became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I felt the scourge of my dweebiness everywhere I went.
But the thing about dweebiness is that it automatically transforms into confidence once you just accept it as it is. I regret letting my perceptions of myself dictate how I went about my time at Barnard and Columbia.
If you’re struggling with feeling like an awkward human everywhere you go, don’t. Trust me: Everyone at Columbia is a fucking nerd.
Photo via Paulina Mangubat