I’m living in an obnoxiously clean room and my days consist of waking up at 2 pm and then eating for the next 12 hours. It could only mean one thing: break time!
I’ve decided recently, while lying naked in my bed after a shower (try it—it might just be the greatest thing about being home) that this break is 5% nostalgia, 25% catching some Z’s, 20% eating and 50% flat out weird.
While it’s great to see old friends and talk about that one girl in our class who got married in a hush hush courtroom wedding, or to share in on the somberness and tears of the death of our classmates’ family members, such events are not just fodder for ladies’ “let’s catch up!” sessions. More than that, they mark a tangible milestone of the passing of our high school years and the reclamation of something a bit more personal.
I’ve always held my life motto to be that I don’t take myself too seriously—and yet, maybe, taking yourself seriously is what going to college is all about. But in a different sense than what I’d ever thought about.
My good guy pal (who also decided to go to school out of state) attended our high school basketball game last weekend. To him, it was weird sitting in the college section, seeing all the high school girls clad in Ugg boots, visibly clinging to any tentacle of popularity, and all the high school guys standing chests puffed and arms crossed, the picture of hetero manliness. It was weird seeing all these doppelgangers of ourselves past adhering to the unwritten standards of our mainstream Midwest conservative high school. It was weird realizing that we were those people, just a year ago. And it was most disconcerting of all to recognize that we no longer are.
It might be more obvious to those of us who decided to forsake going to our state school, or those who went to state school, but made a group of new friends, but the constraints that once held together the social fiber of 4 (maybe more) years of our lives have become as extinct as Tyrannosaurus Rexes.
Though we’ve only left high school for 6 months, we’re already growing up. People got married. People died. People understood that there is a world wider than the halls of our high school.
Of course, there are people who don’t realize it—some of my friends, some of my former classmates in my class of 756, and even I, sometimes, have had a difficult time adjusting to life outside of those social constraints. And so, we reach back, for our glory days, for what we’re comfortable with. We sometimes transfer colleges after first semester to be with old friends. We sometimes alienate new experiences by only remembering Prom 2010. We sometimes forget what it’s like to adjust and make changes and to take our individual selves seriously.
The past can pull everyone in. Sweet nostalgia is probably more addictive than heroin. But over these first few days of winter break, when I’ve been steeped in old friends and good times and nostalgia, I’ve realized that college is the time to take your own self seriously. To forget about all the standards of high school and instead, to find what we all really want out of our own lives.
Weird that after 4 months in a college classroom learning more than I ever have in my life, it only took 4 days at home to learn the biggest lesson of all.
Margaret’s been through a lot during her first semester at college. Check out what else she’s been dealing with all semester long.