A week ago, I was asked to share a “hot take” that I stand by. An unsavory opinion I hold dear to my heart. "I still like eating ice cream in the winter,” I said. It was vulnerable, but safe enough to get some nods of agreement, I thought.
My hot take about the cold treat was met with mixed reviews. Some mild agreement, some passionate objections. The other side contested that it’s too cold outside in winter months to enjoy ice cream. But the sole purpose of ice cream lies beyond its mere temperature and its capability to cure summer malaise.
It’s not just the temperature. It’s the flavor of the scoop that perches mightily atop a cone, or a bowl, and with some sprinkles if you’d like. Gummy worms and hot fudge have medicinal properties. Ice cream is sweet and it’s refreshing and I like it even when it’s cold outside. That must count for something. Doing what you like, doing what brings you joy, though it’s unpopular or out of season — it all must count for something.
It’s easy to become lost and feel flattened after a singular social media scroll. To begin to almost revere influencers and the products they endorse. To believe there is no other way to look or feel good than to buy that shirt. To listen to that music. To vacation in that spot. To get that cosmetic work done. To possess all the best things just like everyone else. Individuality is fighting a battle in 2023. But it hasn’t lost. It’s not going down without a fight.
I see it fighting every day when I walk to class. In the sea of walkers, I see the occasional roller-skater. Amidst the uniformly black umbrellas, there’s one per block covered in stripes or polka dots. Waiting in lines on Friday night, there are cool shoes I’ve never seen before, gasping for life among the Air Force 1s. It makes me smile.
It makes me smile to see people do what they like, what brings unabashed and loud joyfulness. I walk. I own a black umbrella. I wear Air Force 1s. I like all those things. But I try hard not to deploy them for conformity, for fear of rocking the boat. We all conform, but we have moments where our internal voice urges us to rebel in our own little ways. Maybe we should heed the voice.
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Two days post-“hot take” round table, I went to dinner for my friend’s birthday, and we decided to cap the night with Hartzell’s ice cream. It was 24 degrees and windy. We forged on. I ordered cookie dough with sprinkles. A perfectly curated combination of vanilla and chocolate flavors plus the unrivaled joy of rainbow sprinkles. Something about them makes me feel like a kid again — in a good way.
As we sat huddled together at a table for warmth, we shoveled spoonfuls of cold into our mouths — gladly and willingly. We laughed and talked too loudly. The vanilla melted and the cookie dough chunks surfaced through the soupy mess of pink and green and blue color-bled sprinkles. It was still good. We shivered, but the sweetness prevailed.
We felt like little kids. In a good way.
We are human after all. We’re good and bad, collective and individual, influenced and unique. We can be all these things at different times of the day, or all at once. But when we’ve chosen our own way, the joy shows: in the roller skates, in the polka dot umbrellas, in the cool shoes and in the ice cream.
There are always people who want to take their own path. If they’re your people, they’ll want to do it alongside you. Stick to yourself. But love the brave ones you can huddle around a winter fire with, eating ice cream as it melts.
Audrey Vonderahe (she/her) is a sophomore studying journalism and criminal justice. Her dog is named after Ozzy Osbourne.