It’s my last week of college. I’ve finished all undergrad classes and I only have three finals separating me from the all-encompassing void that is life after graduation. They say college is supposed to be the best years of your life. Don’t ask me who “they” are; I don’t actually know. But I really hope they’re not right. Because while I did some fun things in college, I hope I haven’t peaked.
I’m assuming I haven’t for the sake of hope and sanity, and, in that case, I’m not really sure what the point of college was. Sure, I’ve become a better writer, but I could have done that with any concentrated practice, and I’m not sure these four years were worth the piecrust promise of a well-paying job. I didn’t go to parties, I barely made friends… So, what what was the point? Learning, I hear the small voice in the back of my head say, the same one that told me writing a thesis was a good idea and that the one thing I said to that one guy four years ago was really dumb and he probably still remembers it. But, as usual, small voice, I think you have a point, even though I don’t want you to. So, what have I learned in college?
With the cram ‘n spam method of studying (cram the night before/ morning of, then pour every piece of irrelevant information you can remember into the essay test), you don’t retain a lot of information. So I remember random facts.
- Lord Byron kept a bunch of pets, among which were a crocodile and a goat with a broken leg. He also bought the Greek revolution. Seriously.
- Shakespeare was played in a movie by the same guy who plays Lestrade on BBC’s Sherlock.
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was a marketing ploy.
- Shakespeare’s plays are mostly dick jokes. Much Ado About Nothing is innuendo.
- There’s an erotic retelling of Wuthering Heights. There’s also a children’s book version. About weather.
- It takes approximately three minutes to read two pages of double-spaced, 12 point text. There are about 300 words per each double-spaced, 12 point page.
- William Carlos Williams turned a refrigerator note into a poem and got famous for it.
- There’s a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde musical. There is also a Wuthering Heights musical. More than one.
- Celeste Ng spent six years on Everything I Never Told You.
- Dr. Seuss hated children. Shel Silverstein wrote “A Boy Named Sue” as well as a song called “F*** it.”
- Wassailing started as a bunch of drunk children breaking into houses and demanding food and money. Fa la la la la.
And that’s just the things I learned in classes. That doesn’t account for the random facts remembered because I heard them from people. I have a friend taking comparative anatomy and physiology, so I know a lot more than I wanted to, such as the anatomy of a cat testicle and the fact that humans have the potential to develop extra nipples on their thighs. I also learned that Michael from The Princess Diaries is the younger brother of Jason Schwartzman and is the frontman of a fairly successful band.
But I could regale you with random facts for a very long time. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. But I think I learned some solid life lessons in college as well.
I’ve learned that I can write a novel. More generally, I learned that I am more stubborn than I thought I was and that I can do anything I set my mind to, even if I end up wanting to tear my hair out. I also learned that I have good friends who will keep me from tearing my hair out.
I’ve learned that you can buy Long Island iced teas in a can. For under two dollars. They taste about as good as you think they would, but after about the fourth sip, you stop noticing. I’ve also learned what your basic cocktails have in them and even how to make some of them. I can now tell the difference between beers and can order without looking like a newbie. I’ve come to realize, though, that no one really knows everything about alcoholic drinks.
I’ve learned that getting a job is all about who you know.
I’ve learned that paint on asphalt in the rain has a bad reaction with Old Navy flip-flops, as proven many times over almost doing the splits in front of countless moderately attractive men.
I’ve learned that when two or more people planning weddings get together, they will talk about weddings. Then they will talk about their significant others, then living arrangements and lingerie and future plans. They will then talk about weddings again.
I’ve learned that while settling for the sake of being in a relationship isn’t the worst thing in the world (if you both have that mindset, anyway), be careful who and what you’re settling for. Someone who won’t hold your hand for newfound religious reasons isn’t worth it. Especially if the two of you have exactly two things in common, no more, no less.
I’ve learned that I’m capable of keeping a plant alive.
I’ve learned that everyone is a person. There is no hierarchy of humanity; everyone isn’t out to judge me and hold me to an impossible standard. There’s no exact formula for communication: no matter what you’re doing, you’re talking to a person, a person with feelings, with likes and dislikes, good days and bad days, self-esteem issues and constantly misspelled words and probably questionable fashion, and a bona fide sense of (often inappropriate) humor. I am as much a worthy member of society as anyone else.
I’ve learned that humility and self-deprecation aren’t the same thing.
I’ve learned that you can’t fix people, and you can’t fix their problems. But you can give them coffee and chocolate and a safe space to vent or cry or sleep. Which helps.
I’ve learned that you’ll never regret putting people before work, but you’ll often regret putting yourself before your work. Sleep is not more important than that ten page paper due tomorrow. Netflix is not more important than that group project. But your friend’s life crisis is more important than both of those. And your professor will most likely understand and be lenient toward the latter.
I’ve learned that you won’t get what you won’t ask for. And if you’re offered something and you say no, it won’t often be followed by “are you sure?” My freshman year I was sitting alone in my room, hungry and single. An attractive guy knocked on my door and offered me a donut and, because it was my knee-jerk reaction, I said, “no, thanks.” He shrugged and left, and I regret that interaction to this day. If I had said yes, at the very least I wouldn’t have been hungry anymore, and at most I could be planning a wedding of my own right now. Ah well.
I’ve learned that attraction is a bitch.
I’ve learned that “Hi, I’m Kristen, I don’t know you,” is a perfectly acceptable way to start getting to know someone. (It actually led to a relationship. Who knew.)
I’ve learned that if you care about a person, that conversation is worth having.
I’ve learned that finding ways to decompress and de-stress is incredibly important. Stress is bad for your body and bad for your mind and, in the long term, bad for your productivity. Yoga is good, as is drawing/painting, and walking, and crocheting, and purposefully watching movies–none of this trying to multi-task homework and entertainment. Multi-tasking important things just hurts your brain and leads to less things getting done.
I’ve learned that needing alone time doesn’t make you a bad person. Extraverts don’t have to understand. But you need to try to explain it anyway.
I’ve learned that coffee is not a substitute for food.
I’ve learned that the world was designed for people much dumber than I am. No one wants me to fail, especially not at ordinary everyday tasks.
I’ve learned that you can’t fight over text. Well, I suppose you can, but it’s the exact opposite of productive.
Most of all, I’ve learned that communication is underrated. For goodness’ sake, don’t be passive aggressive. If you have a problem, address it. If you want something, ask for it. If someone is doing something good, tell them, even if it’s just a great choice of socks. If you want to talk to someone, talk to them. Don’t let fear keep you from saying hello. Don’t let a miscommunication turn into a fight or a ruined relationship.
College is about growing into a person. And I think I’ve learned that it’s acceptable just to be a good one.