Freshman Amanda Collins may seem like your run-of-the-mill first year student at Loyola. She turns her homework in on time, lives in Simpson with her roommate and reluctantly attends rugby parties when her friends beg her to. But recently, Amanda Collins added a tenth succulent to her collection—a collection for which she is awarded hundreds of likes and comments on Instagram.
“I don’t actually even know my roommate’s last name,” Collins said. “I don’t even know if she still lives here. All I have to rely on is my succulent collection.”
Collins told me this as we sat in gross desk chairs and sipped shitty coffee that sputtered out of a Keurig. Everything in her room belongs to her roommate. Everything, that is, except the succulents.
“My roommate—damn it, what is her name?” Collins struggled. “Alandra! My roommate Alandra brought everything with her. Except for those sweet darlings. Those sweet darlings are mine.”
She gazed thoughtfully at the windowsill.
Amanda brought just two succulents with her on move-in day back in August. She purchased both at Walmart. When she made her first friend, Sandra, the pair went out and each bought one succulent. Sandra was satisfied with her collection of three succulents, but Amanda’s thirst grew.
“I don’t know—like, I just wanted one more. And then, one more turned into three more. Now, I think about succulents all the time. Each time, I tell myself ‘This is the last one, Amanda,’” she said while pointing and staring toward the floor. “Each fills my ever-growing void. I need—emphasis on need—need succulents.”
Amanda treats herself like a succulent by drinking water every two weeks and thriving on neglect. She posts pictures of her collection at least once a week, and people comment with encouraging phrases like “Artsy!” and “Love watching your collection grow!” Once, when Amanda posted a picture of herself, one follower commented, “We want to see the succulents! LOL!” and three people ‘up-arrowed’ the comment. She immediately deleted the picture. “Gotta keep up the aesthetic!” she tells me, her hands shaking as she pets her nearest green tyrant.