I have been out of college for a year and a half, which as any relatively new grad will tell you, is an absolute eternity. I would fork over the entire (albiet measley) contents of my checking account to pack up my cubicle and head back to school. I’d even live in the dorm. But looking back on the cheap-beer soaked debauchery of the good-old-days, I can’t help but wonder if school really prepared me for this. Admittedly, I squandered some time that would probably have been better spent slaving away in the stacks, but I graduated with a good GPA, and now, my diploma permanently enshrined on my parent’s wall, I’m left wondering what I actually learned.
Freshman year I learned that Spanish was a wildly ambitous 8:00 AM class selection. I learned that huge lecture classes were the perfect cover for mid-morning snoozes, that when you’re 19 you think you look 23, that the freshman 15 is absolutely not a myth and that college professors really do not give a damn. I learned that it’s imperative to set boundaries, that the trash will not be taken out by your roommate no matter how long it sits there and, if you happen to draw on the walls with dry erase marker, that the cleaning ladies will not think it’s nearly as funny as you do. I learned that rush is essentially a cattle-drive for freshman girls, that some people take it way more seriously than others and that the dorm is not a place where serious work gets done. I also learned that boys are still boys, and freshman year is simply not the time for a serious relationship.
Sophomore year I moved out of the dorm and into an apartment with three pledge sisters. I learned that living with girls isn’t nearly as exciting as they make it look in Legally Blonde, that people really do steal your food, and that living within walking distance of Starbucks is expensive. I learned that economics was not my strong suit, that the on-campus doctors were under the impression that anything can be cured with a Z-Pak, and that I was actually pretty good at geology. I learned that rush is an incredibly creepy and draining two-week process, that senior girls really do get emotional and cry over that crap and that one of life’s greatest joys is a fabulous tailgate party in November when we play UT. I also learned that boys are still boys, that sophomore year is still not the time for a psudeo-serious relationship, and that boys still break up with girls on the phone at the age of 20.
By junior year, I learned that college advisors don’t really “advise” you on anything and that moving into a house with three more girls was a bold move. I learned that it was necessary to go to class, that if I didn’t participate in “sisterhood events” that I would be placed on some sort of probation and that the trash still doesn’t take itself out no matter how long it sits there. I learned that non-college residents hold a long-standing and pejudiced grudge against co-eds and that sitting on the roof in the sun is an excellent way to spend the afternoon. I leaned that tanning was the biggest waste of money I’d ever fallen for, and that self-tanner accomplishes the same thing without the threat of skin cancer. I learned that White Russians and tequila do not, under any circumstances mix, that purchasing a dog was a double-edged sword and I learned (beleatedly) that my roommates hated dogs. I also learned that there was a damn good reason my fake I.D. never worked, and it was because prior to my 21st birthday, no amount of fake documentation was ever going to convince a bouncer that I wasn’t 15 years old. Which is why I’m still getting carded five years later.
Senior year was all it was cracked up to be, until it wasn’t. I learned that girls don’t ever change, and that someone’s always going to get ganged-up on. I learned what it was like to lose a best friend over a boy, that there are nice guys out there and that perhaps I had befriended the wrong people. I learned that when the Tech-UT game falls on Halloween weekend, that you better put your big-girl party pants on, that the library really is one of my favorite places, and that I should have stayed an English and Journalism major all along. I learned that realizing you made a mistake freshman year is really shitty but there’s no changing it now and that tenured professors are overly self-important, pompous jerks. I learned that math still wasn’t my strong suit, that I’m an excellent paper-writer and that when it was my turn, I was the blubbering idiot at rush tearing up over all the good times. I learned what it’s like to go to bed after a night out with friends and to wake up the next morning without a friend in the world. I learned how hard it was for my parent’s to watch me fall apart and try and put myself back together, and I learned that it is possible to move on. I learned that if it’s meant to be, it will happen (it did), and that everything happens for a reason.
Once I graduated, I had no idea what to do with all this superfluous knowledge, but I’ve done a lot of things and learned even more. I learned that just beacause your family thinks you’d be a good lawyer, doesn’t mean that’s a good enough reason to apply to law school. I also learned that telling the truth in your law school application essay is probably the surest way to not get into law school. I learned that I have a moral compass, that my parents really are trying to help me get on my feet and that my little brother is all gown up. I learned that my opinion really isn’t that important and that there’s something to be said to keeping it to yourself sometimes. I learned to be more responsible, that I had better start exercising now and that I am completely infatuated with yoga. I learned to not care so much what people say or think, that if someone asks you to move in with him that he must really love you and that not all girls are soul-sucking haters.
I’ve also learned that while many of my high school friends have moved onward and upward to high-powered careers in glamorous places like New York and Chicago, that there’s nothing wrong with not wanting that. I’ve also learned that I’ve stll got things to learn, but I’m working on it.
After all, everything that’s supposed to happen, does. Eventually.