You take classes in philosophy, psych, maybe even a little cultural studies so that you can properly analyze a book that is most likely related to some form of colonialism. You major in something you think you’re passionate about or something that will make a lot of money or something that sounds really good at a 10-year reunion. And if you choose right, this may actually be something you can make a real career out of. Maybe. The love you get out of the courses you take and the lessons you learn will teach you what you want to do with your life or what you don’t want to do with your life. Either way, you will fall into a couple of academic potholes and eventually you’ll find out which one will pop your tire and make you stay. Even by studying something you don’t love, you’ll discover what you do love.
You will meet so many people. Younger, older, weirder, or just plain boring. You’ll become friends with the guy who always offers gum. You’ll hate that girl in front who, without fail, asks a question a minute before the teacher was going to dismiss you…every hour. Your friends will make friends and you’ll meet those friends who will introduce you to their friends who will be your original friends. You probably know people’s full names even though you’ve never met them because they’ve had enough interaction on Facebook with mutual friends. Just walking around campus will make you effectively know a huge chunk of your demographic and you will continue to recognize people after you graduate but you won’t know why. But here’s the truth: You will make plenty of acquaintances but only a small number of close friends. Life will catch up with you post-graduation and all those people you met will start doing their own thing. It’s not personal, it’s business also known as “your future”.
You will meet someone who will become your person. The one you wake up early in the morning for. The one who knows that before a test, you’re going to be in pajamas in the library but doesn’t mind because you’re falling asleep on them so, technically, you’re appropriately dressed for the occasion. The one your friends call when they can’t find you. The one that pisses you off because they ate your last french fry but, deep down, you don’t care. The one who gives you their hoodie when you wear that polyester shirt that’s going to make you an allergic mess. The one that makes you stronger just by saying “it’ll be okay” because them saying it makes it true. The one who’s smell is chloroform and smelling salts to you. The one who is your spinach and kryptonite. The one that may be The One. Or not.
You will develop a love for at least one material item that is unnatural. It may be your car, your laptop, your cellphone, your iPod, your lucky BIC pen that has managed to help you pass every English essay that needed to be written within 30 minutes…it could be all of these things, at which point, you may need to get out more. You will become dependent on this item and love it like it is your child. You will have heart palpitations when it is hurt and will worry about it when it’s not with you. Please remember, they are material things. They can be replaced. As long as you backup all data and/or have insurance. Except for the BIC, that stuff is magic.
You will realize how much your parents love you. Not immediately but eventually it will dawn on you. They will suffocate you with phone calls, lectures and questions about where you are, why you’re not studying, who you’re with, what you ate for lunch, etc. Then there’s the teasing about how you’ve lost/gained weight which is somehow related to the status of your love life that you have yet to inform them about and that’s their way of reminding you that you haven’t. And if you’re living on your own, you will realize how much your parents used to do for you without you appreciating it because now you have to do everything yourself while still getting the phone calls, lectures and questions mentioned above.
You will meet at least one accomplished individual – a professor, guest speaker, lab instructor, PhD student – who will inspire you to be an accomplished individual. They don’t necessarily have to be in your field or from your country of origin but you see yourself in them for some unknown reason. They will give you hope and make you think that it is actually possible to “make it” and that maybe that last overnight or failed final won’t even be a blip on the radar of success that is in store for your ambitious little soul. You’re going to be a star because J.K. Rowling said failing is okay and since Scrooge McDuck is definitely jealous of her case of swimmer’s ear, you’re convinced she knows her shit.
You will develop a new found love for yourself. You will spend nights bouncing thoughts about your future off the ceiling like it’s a ping pong table. You will realize what your weaknesses and strengths are. You will realize how powerless you can be and how much you can accomplish. You will surprise yourself over and over again. You will also learn what you will put up with from other people and what you will be willing to do for others as well. You will see how selfless you can be without feeling used but you will also know that there will come a point where you will also need to be selfish without shame. And sometimes, you will do this all alone. You will become your own worst enemy and your own best friend because the one constant you can count on in all the ups and downs is you.
If you’re lucky, you get to experience at least 3 of these. If you’re really lucky, you get them all. (POKE-E-MON!…sorry.)