When I transferred from community college to Boston College I couldn’t even begin to comprehend the college kid’s lifestyle, nor could I fake like I knew what was going on. At community college my classmates had been moms, dads and grandparents. I spent my free time reading books and doing crossword puzzles. I developed a closer relationship with the little things in my life, like favorite TV shows and great meals. Snapchat and Instagram were not words in my vocabulary, nor apps on my phone. I lived a simple life, and I loved it. But the truth was I had become an old man trapped in a 21-year-old college kid’s body.
The prospect of transferring to a four-year college was daunting. I envisioned going to a party and conversing with people I didn’t have much in common with—probably about some overdramatic problem I wouldn’t understand. I would have to project my voice way too loud to be heard over the blasting of a genre of music I detest. Then, I’d probably only catch about 60 percent of what someone yelled back to me. This would be taking place in some incomprehensibly dimly lit, overcrowded room.
Parties weren’t my only fear when it came to the thought of being the old guy thrown into a college environment. Who could possibly put up with a guy who goes to sleep before 11 p.m. and wakes up around 8 a.m.? How would people perceive my overenthusiastic love for peanut butter sandwiches and Survivor? I was different, and I knew it.
When I moved into my dorm at Boston College, I met the five other guys, also transfer students, who I would be living with for the year. Unlike myself, they all came from traditional four-year universities. So I wrote them off as typical college students, with interests and personalities that would certainly clash with mine. They spoke of Tinder and I thought to myself, Tinderbox? They said, “Let’s go out,” and I asked, “To bed?”
Eventually the getting-to-know-each-other conversations took place and we all began to mesh. I saw that our common thread of being transfer students was significant. We were outsiders to the Boston College community and needed each other. Even more than that, I recognized and accepted my roommates’ idiosyncrasies, and they reciprocated this understanding. One roommate shared my love for bluegrass and folk music. Another guy had seen previous seasons of Survivor (this was huge), and so we proceeded to nerd-out over the show. I could even share my love of classic literature with these people. Being the eccentric old soul was the role I filled within this living arrangement. But was this the role I could play throughout my college career?
I did my best. At parties, I occasionally was able to strong-arm Zac Brown Band songs onto the docket. I found another fan of Survivor (this was equally huge), and we bonded over its thirty-season history. When the fall season began, the three of us would gather around a TV and thus, Survivor Wednesdays was born.
No one says I have to act one way or another at college. I can be an old man here.