Yes, we have finally made it to the article I have been waiting to share: My year in review. It is weird to realize that the first fourth of my journey through college is just about done. Sadly, my memory is absolute crud and I cannot remember specific events to save my life. I am glad to have gotten the chance to write for The Observer because each article serves as a little snippet to my first year here at Case Western Reserve University. Though I cannot remember many occurrences, I do feel like something is different. And maybe, I hope, the freshman class can agree with me that this has been a year of change, whether it be physical or mental. So here it is, the four biggest things I’ve learned from college.
First, the amount of awkward encounters you have with people, will double by the time you finish first semester. Remember that guy you so were going to get coffee with? Or that girl you so were going to be best friends with after Orientation? Remember how you pretty much stopped talking to them by the time we left for Thanksgiving? Well, here they come walking down the Binary Walkway and you definitely made eye contact. Let’s be real now. A majority of the people we talked to at the beginning of the year are definitely not the people we talk to now. It is a part of growing up. We find the people that work with us well and we also learn how to interact with others on a grown-up level. This isn’t high school anymore. We have matured and learned that you cannot run from awkward situations. You have to face them and only hope that the encounter will not be so awkward that it should be in a sitcom.
Second, whatever you do, do not take what people say to you at face value. This should especially count for the beginning of the semester. When someone says, “Oh, I would never stoop to that level!” or “Oh, I will never be that basic or that ratchet!” They will probably do something really ratchet or really basic. However, I am aware that I am throwing stones from my big, glass house. I can be pretty stupid sometimes as well. You’ll be surprised when you realize that the amount of things you said you’d do don’t match up to the things you actually did. Half of us came in pre-med. How many of us actually stuck with it? There is a reason why adults tell you that you will probably change your major. I was against that notion from the beginning. But there is no point in forcing something to work.
Third, you need to be happy with yourself and your decisions. I came into college wanting to please everyone. You spend so much time worried about everyone else and lose yourself in the process. Many of the elderly list their biggest regret as never doing what they truly wanted to do. Last time I checked, only you can live your own life. Yes, everyone will have their own two cents about how you should be going on with your life. And yes, sometimes that advice will be good advice. Let’s be real again, how much of that advice was actually helpful? We are now making decisions that will affect us for the rest of our lives. Some of the people that give us that advice play only a small role in the 70-plus years we are expected to live. Why should they get the final word? Just do you. Just doing you is tough as hell because it requires you to be honest with yourself, and doing what others tell you to do is easier than facing the difficulties of having to go off your own accord. Shouldn’t the hope that we can make it doing it our way be enough motivation to just go out there?
Lastly, it is okay to be a burnt mess. I coined that phrase my first week here at CWRU. It is just one level above being a hot mess and one level below being a cremated mess. Being at your wit’s end is kind of nice. When you’re in the moment, it is of course a terrible experience. Stepping back from the situation, you can see that you have nowhere else to go but up. For the rest of our adult lives, things are only going to get messier. The fact that we are learning how to handle it now means that we are just getting stronger. Strength means picking up the pieces of our shambled lives and keep going.
Well, it has been real, Case Western. I have to thank L3, Hulu, Denny’s and KSL for being my truest friends for the past several months. I have had my days where this school and I did not get along. I also have had my days where I love college like I love my Denny’s. What I love about CWRU is that it forced me to either sink or swim. Though I’m not sinking or swimming, I am somewhere in-between. Floating through the rest of the semester doesn’t seem that bad right now. Maybe then I can float into the Sophomore Slump.
Stephen Kolison has finally declared a double major in Cognitive Science and Psychology. But he is still “pre-unemployment.” He is also a member of IMPROVment. In his free time, he knits while watching Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones.