From day one of starting school, our parents, friends, grandparents, priests and barbers wanted us to be the best in our classes. And for the last three semesters I, and the rest of my classmates, strived for perfection.
More than likely, we will want to be close to perfect until we graduate because being the best at something simply makes your life that much easier. I know that we all spent the last month resting and relaxing, but I am still tired. I am tired of wanting to get everything right the first time. The awe and passion that I once had has slowly chipped away and been replaced with an urge to simply get my degree and get the hell out of here. The motivation to do anything disappeared the minute we were welcomed back with Cleveland’s lame weather.
You’d think that coming back to a new term would give everyone the energy to push on ahead to the end of the year, but we all don’t have the drive right now. The second semester is a time for change, and without our determination the only thing that will change are the people around us as they make an effort to act differently. Resolutions are not for everyone, but students still make vows to help alter the course of their lives.
Whether someone wants to wake up earlier or wishes to go to Veale every now and then, we make promises to ourselves because we want something to be different. We want the unexpectedness and enjoyment that come with changing the mundane routines we’ve made during our college careers. And sometimes we really don’t know what we want, but we want something that reminds us that this semester is not going to be a repeat of the last one. Unfortunately, the more we want to change our old habits, the more likely we are to make a mistake.
When I look back on my past three semesters at CWRU, all I can really remember are the times that I have made a complete ass of myself. Even after all the embarrassment and failures, that part of the year becomes ingrained in my memory and for some crazy reason it makes me want to make more mistakes.
It sounds odd to want to royally mess up. Here come the clichés, but we need to learn from our mistakes. There is always one guy in the crowd who interprets something as little as falling while going up the stairs as something big and dramatic: “As I saw the ground inch closer to my face, I realized that the stairs represent life and how it’s always knocking me down.”
Then there is the guy next to him who would fall too and just say, “Man that was dumb. Stupid stairs.”
Not every mistake has a lesson and not every lesson is meant to be profound.
Learning something from an experience makes it all worthwhile. I guess I want to muck things up because I am looking forward to having something to look back on. In just four years we’re expected to get an education, find everlasting friends and make memories that will last forever. College is tough, but having the memories of different mistakes I’ve made feels like having battle scars. It says that even though it was a crappy time in my life, I got through it and I’m still alive to talk about it.
A wise resident assistant once told me that college is the only place where socially unacceptable things become socially acceptable. Maybe the passion and drive that people look for are within those words. If we really do just have four years to make things happen, then why not make it happen now and see where it goes?
You wouldn’t think that it would be humanly impossible to screw up so many times within the short span of a year and a half, but somehow I’ve become the inhuman Guinness World Record Holder for “Most Screwups” in just a month. I abused Freshman Forgiveness when I had it, and I have failed so hard at flirting that I should be barred from making human contact. But they are my mistakes, and I take full responsibility for them. They make me cringe, but they make me laugh too. These beautifully painful stories will be the tales I tell my siblings, parents, children and the guy sitting next to me on the number 32 to Target.
So I guess this is my time to make a “call to action.” I’m not asking anyone to mess up beyond repair or stop trying to be perfect. I think I am asking people to do something in the middle of that. I’m asking people to take more risks and own their mistakes this term so they can learn something that isn’t in a book. A semester doesn’t become perfect because of academics alone but because we found that doing imperfect things leads to discovery. And maybe becoming good at college means trying to be a little bad.
Stephen Kolison is a sophomore psychology major and pre-unemployment student. He is a jack of all trades and master of none in training, a member of IMPROVment and knits while watching Downton Abbey. He hopes to be a talk show host.