Graduating High School is a rite of passage. It signifies the stages of a childhood. University life is indicative of the transitioning minds that seek to achieve milestones marked as pavers on the journey to achieving dreams. The glorification of this new life is quickly shocked into reality with the experience of the University cafeteria and the realization that one must compete for the survival of the fittest.
Leaving High School in the past brings about many assumptions of change and transformation. College students are more mature and are preparing to enter the workforce as educated adults. The cliques and drama of the High School halls are of days gone by. Everyone at college acts with respect for their fellow humans. Assumptions create false hopes that become shattered by course reality.
The truth is quite different than this façade of civilized college life. The cafeteria stands as a prime example of dream-shattering reality and misconceptions. Intended to provide nourishment for the survival of human-kind, the apparent misconception of higher living goes up in flames at first glance. Long lines, limited seating, and restricted break times is hauntingly familiar to anyone that has stepped foot into a High School. The past echoes through the college cafeteria as the same regulations, cliques, and chaos become painfully evident. Cafeterias serve as a prime example of survival of the fittest.
This term is not necessarily as it initially sounds. The "fittest" does not indicate individuals that exemplify massive physical strength or those that possess the best health. In fact, sometimes these characters are the weaker links in society. Modern society places new demands on people that were not even present in the imagination of Herbert Spencer, the philosopher given credit of coining the phrase "survival of the fittest" (Le Page, 2008).
Today's concept of the survival phrase has mutated. Even if it originally pertained to brute physical strength, modern times suggest a different need to thrive, if not survive, in society (Le Page, 2008). It takes will, determination, inner strength, and problem-solving skills to navigate this so-called life. The times of hunting and gathering are far behind first-world countries. Today sees a race to occupy a career that supplies monetary exchange for duties accomplished. It is this exchange that affords an individual to purchase needed supplies necessary to uphold their lifestyle, or at least acquire the basic needs for survival. Food reigns at the top of the priorities to live another day.
Everyone must eat, even college students. Even if they do not possess the knowledge, skills, or appliances to make their own meals, the college cafeteria is present to serve and meet these daily requirements. Though it may not be a student's first choice of meals, it sits conveniently on campus to fit in to the tight time constraints of college life. Gaining these meals comes at a cost that all students may not be capable of meeting. Hence, survival of the fittest rears its ugly head. Since the cafeteria mocks the social structure of the High Schools, problems present themselves in an array of situations that make gaining a simple meal a situation riddled in complexities.
Large populations rushing the cafeteria in a single moment creates a traffic jam. A student must determine if the long line to receive nourishment will allow any time to even consume the meal. If patience is not possessed by the potential patrons, then this waiting in line is infuriating at best. Pushing and shoving must be avoided so as not to draw unwanted attention from the larger statured peers. Staying calm is an inner strength indicative of being labeled one of the fittest.
When one is fortunate enough to make it through the lunch line with time to inhale the food, finding an available seat poses the next frustrating obstacle. High School cliques have followed students to their new surroundings. Even if one is lucky enough to spot an open seat, the chances of acceptance among the strangers that stare mockingly are minimum at best. Spotting an open place to picnic in the outside forum is a hopeful option for those campuses with such an available royalty. One could always scarf down the morsels as they make their way to the garbage receptacles as well which completely resolves the seating issue. These solutions require students to be quit-witted problem-solvers bent on success, or at least the intake of sustenance. More traits are also deemed those to belong to the "fittest" in modern day society.
Brawn and an overly inflated ego have no room in the modern term "survival of the fittest". With population soaring, the scrounge for goods has mutated from dragging home a fresh kill to the rat race of the everyday schedule to punch a clock and receive the direct deposit. College life is no different. Demanding schedules, workloads, and cramming for finals all in exchange for a GPA in promise of stepping into a future career takes away from the need of physical superiority. Life has become the challenge of outthinking the opposition to be the valedictorian or being wily enough to obtain a meal from the college cafeteria with time and space to consume it.
It is these internal qualities that strongly support "survival of the fittest" currently existing on college campuses, especially the cafeteria. Since the fittest need internal strengths to navigate through the masses to obtain brain food, this coined phrase applies as much, if not more so, than when it was born. Humans are animals by creation and all have the internal instinct to survive. With the evolution of society leaning toward thinking your way out of problems, the fittest stands the need of a modern definition. Be it survival of the fittest or survival of the wittiest, the core of the phrase remains intact. It takes mental and emotional strength to beat the competition in the game of life.