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College is a Circus (Convince Me Otherwise)

There are so many metaphors floating around out there about college life, but I think it’s important to pause and poke fun at the entanglement of our experiences. We really do live in a circus with things so strange that the only appropriate reaction is laughter. But on a more serious note, we’re also performers, putting forth versions of ourselves that help us adapt to our crazy circumstances. What follows are the best comparisons between circus acts and college occurrences I can create. (Disclaimer: most of them are pure clownery.)


Okay, yeah. This is one is kind of a freebee, the most obvious of the comparisons on my list. Jugglers require laser focus (and a bit of luck) to toss multiple pins in the air without letting them fall to the ground. The more pins a juggler adds to her act, the harder it becomes. I would say that balancing the different parts of our lives, from classes to extracurriculars to me-time to friends and everything else in between, ups the ante. And if you’re anything like me, you’re dropping your pins all the dang time.

Tightrope Walking

This one falls along the same lines as juggling, but I’d say the stakes are quite higher. Like our little cartoon friend here, precariously balancing himself on a thin line hovering over a massive drop, college students often find themselves teetering back and forth between work and fun. As hundreds of college commentators have asserted for years and years, having too much fun while neglecting our schoolwork means we’ll be taking the plunge into the deep. But on the other hand, if we don’t let ourselves take the breaks we need and deserve, we’re looking at the same drop. So we find ourselves swaying back and forth, trying to cross the chasm that is our time at Rhodes. Let me know if you find anyone who feels like they’re not about to plummet.


This one is a two-parter. Just like a trampoline is a giant spring, coffee is that magical drink that catapults us into our day. And unless you are supremely experienced with trampolining, you might lose a bit of control and falter when you’re midair. Even though coffee might give us the energy for our day, it can never quite prepare us for what’s coming. 


Though a ringmaster is a member of the circus we performers are not able to be, we certainly understand his power. The ringmaster controls everything in the circus, ushering in act after act and directing the performance. So too do our professors dictate our lives: the time we wake up in the morning, how often we are in the library, and even the times we choose to let the work go. The bottom line is that they run the show, even when school is the last thing on our minds.


Okay, so hypnosis technically isn’t an act. But being hypnotized is a popular sideshow in many circuses and I thought it was worth a mention. I’m not sure what could be closer to being hypnotized than having to wake up for an 8 A.M. Just saying.


Acrobats are entertainers, known for impressing audiences with their wide range of talents. Though not all of us have their gymnastic capabilities, we too are acrobats who showcase ourselves in friendships and relationships. The acrobats show us their gymnastic moves in quick succession, keeping us wowed and excited, just as we put forth our best selves for those around us, hoping the people we know find us interesting.


These superhumans are able to twist and mold their bodies into shapes that seem completely impossible. You might wonder how we, mere mortals, could compare. Piling into the DD cars for off-campus parties. Enough said.

Trained Animals

Frat boys. I really don’t think there’s much more to say here, except that this is all in good jest.


If you know me at all, you had to have known this clown joke was coming. Sometimes, clowns make us laugh. Sometimes, we’re scared of them. Either way, every single one of us are clowns when we mess up. And college students mess up all the time. So when we make a mistake, say or do something we didn’t mean, or just acted a little dumb, all we can do is call ourselves clowns. And once you start, I promise you won’t be able to stop.

A believer in the power of words and a lover of books, bullet journaling, La Croix, and black bean nachos
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