1. I remember when I was in college, I befriended a group of fellow Catholic students, whom I thought of as the "Not only am I holier than thou, but thou art going to hell" group. I enjoyed potluck dinners with them, snowball fights on the quad, and movie nights with them.
They went to Mass at a small church near campus almost every day, and
they made me feel as if I was a "bad" Catholic because I only attended church on Sundays and other holy days of obligation. I made it clear to them that I didn't think I would burst into flames just because I didn't want to spend my Saturday nights playing the guitar and singing songs about why God was awesome. As much as I liked them, I grew irritated with their attempts to pressure me to be the kind of Catholics they were.
2. I remember that my friends described me as "independent." I went on my own to watch the movies or concerts that none of them liked. I often went to open mic nights and book signings alone while they hung out in bars, studied at the library, or sat around singing songs about why God was awesome. Whenever I heard about an interesting neighborhood, museum exhibition, or bookstore, I would look up the information and figure out how to get there by myself.
Some of my friends thought it was weird that I was a loner while most of the undergrads didn't even want to be seen eating dinner by themselves, but I enjoyed the freedom of being able to choose exactly where I wanted to go and stay for as long as I wanted.
3. I remember that I often stayed on campus during spring break, while everyone else visited their families or traveled with their friends. I was studying in my room with the door open one day, and one of the only other people on my floor who was also staying on campus passed by and invited me to join her and her friends on an outing to a restaurant and a park near campus.
I accepted, grateful for the invitation and the company. Her friends were very nice and welcoming to me. All went well until we were sitting in a circle in a quiet corner of the park, when one of the friends pulled out a joint and started passing it around. They offered it to me, or rather, they offered it to my quickly retreating back as I made up an excuse and left early, so as to avoid getting high and also avoid the possibility of getting arrested for getting high.
4. I remember that I had a vague idea that I wanted to teach someday, but I was afraid of public speaking. I got over that fear by becoming a campus tour guide. I'd like to say that I perfected the art of walking backwards while talking to large groups of people, but what usually happened was that I would keep hopping up and down, yelling to make myself heard before I eventually backed up into a trash can or a patch of grass.
5. I remember that I toyed with the idea of becoming a journalist, which is why I wrote for the school paper. I remember that the editors (as well as many other students at college) strongly disliked one of the faculty members at the school, so much so that they encouraged us student reporters to interview all the people who also disliked that faculty member in an attempt to dig up dirt on that person. The editors claimed that this was the type of article that would get published in Rolling Stone. I thought it was the type of article that would get published in Us Weekly, and it disgusted me so much that I stopped writing for the paper.
6. I remember that four years of English classes taught me how to over-analyze books and write papers about them, though none of them taught me what I was supposed to DO after graduation. I did internships in public relations, publishing, and the nonprofit sector, which educated me on the proper ways to make copies, make phone calls, and organize filing cabinets.
7. I remember that I wanted to be like my professors, who taught me how to understand and appreciate fine literature and poetry, which opened up my mind in endless ways. But when I told them that I wanted to be a professor, almost all of them warned me about how difficult it would be and how long it would take. I remember I thought that as long as I was good at teaching and liked it, that would be enough.
After spending the better part of my twenties and thirties working in academia, I finally understand what my professors were talking about.
What about you? What do you remember about your college years?
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