Today marks the four-year anniversary from my college graduation. In the big scheme of life- a blink of an eye, but in some ways it seems like an eternity.
It’s times like these that I fondly look back through my photos and reminisce (or cringe) at the undergraduate version of myself. There is no preparation for the violent shift from college attendee to adulthood, in both day-to-day lifestyle and more importantly, mindset. Here is my list of things that the blissfully unaware college-goers should appreciate:
1. Theme Parties
While I hate to think how much money I blew on worthless crap, there is something youthfully brilliant about a college theme party. Scowering party City for the perfect slutty-zebra outfit for the “get wild” social that evening is a feeling that at the time seems like it will never lose it’s charm. Additionally, you can walk around your college town dressed in a completely ridiculous costume and people barely bat an eye. Try walking down the busy city streets of post-grad world with devil horns and a tutu and the contrast will quickly sink in. Theme parties a few years removed from college are usually accompanied with an eye-roll, along with a feeling of resentment towards the host for forcing you to figure out how to acquire a costume in your already too-packed workweek.
2. Hangover Resilience
Yes, we youngsters hear all the time how the older crowd “can’t drink like they used to.” I remember just assuming it was a condescending and judgmental comment and brushing it off. However, it is true that your body’s recovery period does seem to lengthen significantly after a night-long binger as you move farther from college. The honest truth is, this probably has much less to do with age and more to do with lifestyle. Being able to booze all day and wake up and do it again is something that is really only socially acceptable in college. As time goes on, your schedule/responsibilities will not lend themselves to this type of behavior. In result, you find these type of activities less and less “fun” as the years go on. Take advantage of penny-pitcher Mondays, daytime block parties, and day-long football game tailgates. They will never be as fun (or frequent) as they are as a student. Even going back as an alum for a game just isn’t the same.
3. Thinking that your major actually is going to lead you to your lifelong career
I mean, that is the point of college isn’t it? An eighteen year old, not even biologically finished with brain-development, is supposed to choose a major that in turn will lead them to a successful and lifelong career. Except there’s one problem. Remember when you used to hate broccoli as a kid and now you like it? Picking a career is kind of like that. Just like your taste buds; your preferences, priorities, and goals are likely to change over time. As a college student, enjoy this blissfully unaware time where you actually believe that your ethics class will land you your dream job, but also don’t put too much pressure on yourself. This is not the “be all end all.” Prepping for the real world in college goes far beyond the classroom. Learning independence, what gets you going/what doesn’t, and how to get along with people, are all equally valuable life lessons. Four years removed, my career (along with most of my friends and colleagues), does not align directly with chosen college major- and that’s okay.
4. Lack of being tied down, in any way, shape, or form
I am embarrassed to admit, Ray J’s, “‘Aint Gonna Tie Me Down” was one of my ringtones in college, back when song ringtones were a thing. It’s so true though. What do you have to worry about in college? If you have a job, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t show up/get fired from a waitressing gig. Yea, tests are stressful, but in the big realm of life-stressors, they definitely don’t compare. You probably aren’t in some serious relationship, and even if you think you are, you’re living in a bubble. The two of you are able to co-exist in this fantasy atmosphere that doesn’t include the challenges of true responsibility and sacrifice. Want to pick up and go on a spur-of-the-moment trip? Sure, why not. It is a pretty utopic state, if you ask me. Flash forward a few years, and life has the possibility of being SO different.
Four years ago my biggest priority was fitting in plenty of poolside tanning between classes, and scheduling a trip to Disney World during finals week. Now I have a career, a mortgage, a dog, a fiance, and a new-found love for helping others and writing. Currently knee deep in wedding planning, my former self would barely recognize the present-day “me.” I would never want to go back to that time, but really didn’t appreciate how much life could change so quickly at the time.
So in #TBT to college me, cherish each life phase; as it is what it sounds- a PHASE. You will not always WANT to live life the way you do today. Believe it or not, your priorities will shift. One day, spending a Saturday night at IKEA buying furniture for your first home may even give you more joy that a night of bar-hopping ever did! So while you are still finding happiness from gameday face painting, fight songs, and questionable nightclub infested spring breaks- enjoy it! You have the rest of your life to be “an adult.” It will all lead to fantastic memories (and great timehop pictures) in years to come!