“College is the best time of your life,” said my mother every other day before I started my first year of college. All around me, people were saying how college is the time and place to really find yourself, your people and your passion. Every time I heard these clearly rehearsed, Hallmark card encouragements I would roll my eyes.
From what I had seen, college was an extension of high school and I was going to my state school, with half of my graduating class attending with me.
I felt like I knew exactly what to expect.
For the lack of a better word, high school was weird. I had a friend group size of about 40. We partied together, we tailgated football games and were a solid squad for all senior year activities. I realized about sophomore year when the teenage movie phase of high school started to get boring, repetitive and exhausting, that I was ready for a drastic change.
The fact that I was dragged to Florida Georgia Line, Kenny Chesney, and Jon Pardi all in one summer was the icing on the cake. I actually wanted to watch indie rock, punk and alternative bands live, not some aggressive yee-haw’s and cowboy hats. But I still loved my friends; so, for the latter two years of high school I took on a facade.
Granted I always felt like I added my own unique style, but for the most part, it always felt like I dressed in the same fashion, listened to the same beep-boop rave music and went to party after party with not much variation. The summer before college hit and I was so tired of tagging along to different meaningless events and listening to my friends talk about top sororities at their new schools.
I needed change but I was apprehensive that the complete metamorphosis I wanted in college was an unrealistic expectation.
College came around and I didn’t know what pocket of a club I wanted to join that I could fully express myself in. Should I do lacrosse? Hiking club? The record label? By the time the club fair rolled around, I was signing up for anything that looked cool.
No, I never went to any poker club meetings, but yes, I have been receiving their emails for a year and a half.
My best friend—who I had met at freshman orientation—and I ended up deciding to join the radio station. We thought the people at the booth were dope, their conversations interesting, so we figured that we might as well try and get a show. We ended up getting a show on Mondays at 1 a.m.
Needless to say, we didn’t have many listeners. We were the “radio girls” of our freshman dorm and it was awesome—it was like our personality trait. About a month in, my cohost and I decided to go to a radio party to meet some fellow DJ’s. We got all dolled up in our best quirky outfits and set out on the sketchy bus ride it took to get there. As soon as I saw the multiple copies of US Weekly from 2007 with Britney Spears and her shaved head lining the walls, I knew I was where I belonged.
I’ve been doing the radio for a year and a half now and it still feels like I’m the plot of a sci-fi movie.
My theory: I was cloned at birth, separated from my fellow clones, and then in true teenage coming of age movie fashion, we all found each other in a happily ever after. All it took was four years of acting like I was into country music for me to find the courage to be unapologetically me.
Confidence now runs through my veins, and it is a high like nothing else. Reflecting on my experiences makes me feel like a motivational speaker, all I want to do is let people know: you are not alone. There are people out there for everybody, that unspoken connection will come and things will click.
When I think about my high school friends and college friends, I make sure not to mislabel them as old friends and new friends.
Finding the right people isn’t about burning bridges with the old ones, it just means expanding the circle.
All my high school friends are in sororities now except for me. They think my radio show is interesting although I don’t think they’ve ever listened to it and that’s fine. They’re all pretty much the same as they were in high school; again, fine but that just wasn’t the choice for me.
I mean, it’s college; the best time of your life. What was everyone expecting me to do? Not grow and change and get a nose piercing?