I’m getting the sense that graduating college is worse than graduating high school. For one, if you’re starting a job right away, you don’t get a whole summer to soak everything up. Secondly, no one tells you that you’re about to go on to best four years of your life. They tell you “get ready for 40 odd years of work, and then retirement. And another thing, my friends and I are about to spread all across the country and it could be quite a while until I see them again, not just until Thanksgiving. Welp. *sad emoticon*
Maybe the reason that this is so much sadder than high school has to do with the fact that we are all much more emotionally mature and able to process our feelings than our 18-year-old selves. In high school, no one ever took anything seriously. But in college you find out that every second of your life counts. In college you’ve actually had experiences. You know how to process things. You know when things are final, like when you break up with someone and are never ever ever getting back together, or when your semester grades come in and it just wasn’t quite what you are hoping for.
Well, here are some thoughts on the whole grand college experience. My thoughts, no one else’s.
You may not be who you thought you were
This may sound strange, but in college I actually sort of discovered that I was pretty much an establishment type of guy. I didn’t go to college all buttoned up and discover the universe or anything. Quite the opposite, actually. In high school I took pride in associating with burnouts and I thought that would be my place in college. I bought clothes from stores no one else shopped at, pierced my ears and hosted a radio show because I was cool, you guys.
Well, it never felt right, but it took me a while to figure that out. What did feel right was wearing clothes that made me look smart and approachable, not like I had just rolled out of bed. A short haircut felt right, and so did joining a fraternity. And accomplishing things that I could point to and say, “Look, I did that.”
I’m a unique person with original thoughts, a hell of a lot of ambition and knack for having fun. Knowing that means I don’t need to make people think I’m unique with the way I dress or the music I listen to or the crazy shenanigans I’ve gotten into. If they stick around long enough, they’ll figure it out for themselves.
You don’t have to drink to have fun
It’s fun to cut loose at a party or a bar with your friends, but there are other ways to have a good time. Trust me, seeing a rowdy bar or a raging house party through completely sober eyes is fascinating. I’m someone who enjoys defying expectations.
That is why I get a small sense of enjoyment out of people every now and then when I’m at a party or a bar and someone asks me “how much have you had to drink?” and I say “Nothing, I’m sober driving.” The people tend to be surprised, and I guess that’s my own fault. But I think it sets a good example. If you can’t remember the last time you went out on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday and didn’t have a beer, maybe it’s time to volunteer your sober services. You’ll have just as much fun watching your friends act like fools instead of being one of them. And if you have a hard time going out with drinking, you might want to take stock of what’s important in your life.
I can’t imagine not surrounding myself with diverse people
And I’m not just talking about a diversity of majors. If all of your friends come from your Greek chapter or that one club you belong to, you are not branching out enough. If all of your friends look like you (and yes I’m talking about race), dress like you and go to all the same parties as you, you have a problem. But you probably don’t know it. That’s because you have built up a giant bubble for yourself and you will continue to live in that bubble for the rest of your life unless you do something about it.
You have no idea what you’re missing out on when you befriend people from different countries, social strata and ethnicities. If you don’t, you’re going to quickly become the parent who embarrasses their children by saying something ignorant or racist.
When good things happen to you, don’t sit around wondering why
If you’re the type of person who works hard toward the things you really want, you’re going to eventually get them. I really believe that. In fact, my favorite quote comes from the end of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Wonka tells Charlie, “Don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he ever wanted. He lived happily ever after.”
As long as you’ve really thought about the things you want, and you haven’t been greedy or treated other people like crap to get them, you’re going to happy when you accomplish your goals. Failure happens to everyone, by the way. It’s how you behave when you’ve failed that determines how successful you’ll really be when the chips are counted.
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