20 Things I Believed in College

A few weeks ago I attended an event for work at my alma mater, the University of Oregon. It was the first time I’d been back there for non-football related reasons since 2012. The check-in staff enthusiastically gave me a little “Alumni” ribbon when I mentioned that I was a graduate. Everyone kept asking me: “How is it to be back?!” And I answered, “Uh…great!” But secretly, I just kept thinking, “All these kids make me feel SO OLD.”

As I walked around campus on a busy Thursday, I was filled with nostalgia. I had expected to traipse those walkways five years later a “completely different person,” as one always hopes herself will be five years in the future. But had I really changed that much? I had cut my hair. I had gotten married. I had appeared on an Albanian talk show next to a “topless DJ.” But I was still myself: mostly fun to be around but with a grumpy/sarcastic edge, highly anxious, easily irritated, and a gigantic nerd. It was kind of disappointing: I was not the sexy, cool human rights attorney (by day, and Wonder Woman by night)–or whatever vague, unreasonable career I imagined for myself at the time–that I envisioned as an undergrad.

Then I realized, as I ruminated on specific memories of myself, that quite a bit had changed—it was just more subtle than dropping 20% of my body fat or earning huge paychecks or saving the world. There were a lot of convictions I held from ages 18-22 that I was just plain wrong about. So, I wrote some of them down. They make me laugh today.

Things I believed when I was in college:

  1. You should study whatever you’re passionate about and not worry about money or career prospects.
  2. Waking up before 10:00 is impossible.
  3. Law school sounds like a good idea.
  4. I’ll never move back to my hometown—it’s the worst.
  5. People who have made different life decisions than I have are all dumb.
  6. I am “poor.”
  7. I am “busy.”
  8. I’m young. I can eat whatever I want!
  9. I’ll go on a date with anyone even if I’m not interested in them, because I’ll be young forever and have all the time in the world.
  10. If I’m not going out every weekend, I’m not “living life to the fullest.”
  11. I’m living on my own! I’m independent!
  12. I don’t need help.
  13. What’s “office hours”?
  14. I think I’ll do Peace Corps and subsequently become a hero.
  15. I’m never going to live with my parents again.
  16. I had one bad relationship so I’m never getting married.
  17. It’s easier to just be polite to my roommates and avoid conflict with them, even if they are horrible to me.
  18. That mold on my walls is probably no big deal.
  19. Football is definitely super important and I’m spending an appropriate amount of time stressing out about it.
  20. I don’t have a plan for my life but I don’t need to, because everything will just work itself out.

They say college is the last opportunity you have to make mistakes in life and get away with them. I certainly made mine, but luckily they weren’t that bad, and some of them I’m even glad I made. Thanks, U of O.


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