By contributing writer Mike McGoldrick
Everyone has, at one time or another, seen, possibly even read, one of those “things I learned in college” articles. Whether it was on a random drunken stroll through some previously uncharted residence building, or duct taped to a friend’s door, these things are pretty common. But the vague ruminations posted on these lists don’t do the college experience justice. Sure, you may have learned some of that stuff, but it’s pretty damn obvious stuff. Like when there’s some giveaway on campus, and the lists say “free things served at 10:00am will be gone by 9:50.” No shit. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that free stuff is a guaranteed student attraction.
So, with that in mind, I give you a true, honest list of the real things I learned in my first year away from home.
Hindsight is a double-edged sword: Growing bitter and cynical is a fact of college life. Looking back, there is always something you wish you had, or hadn’t, done in that one moment. You torture yourself over the “what-ifs,” and think that you would somehow have been better off if you had done this, that, or the other. Newsflash: history is just that, history. Who gives a rat’s ass if you screwed up a guaranteed hookup, or failed to realize a sure thing in front of your face? All you can do now is sit in your chair, probably at your parents' house in the summer (like now), and recap all the bullshit. It may piss you off that you screwed things up pretty bad, but at least now your bitterness has given you insight. And hopefully your stupid ass won’t make the same mistake again. I mean, for god’s sake it was right in front of you, idiot.
Nicknames stick: If you develop some kind of character trait early on, chances are a nickname will emerge and stick harder than a police record. If the nickname sucks, well you better be the laidback type, because you’re going to be ragged on 24/7 from now on until they give up. Your best bet is to act like you don’t care, or punch every person who perpetuates it. Either way, you’d better get that bottle of rye so you can drink ‘til you forget.
You can’t be friends with everyone on your residence floor: Fact of life, my friend. Everyone tries to make friends with the people on the floor so they have someone to hang out with. But there’s always going to be those few you want to see hurt badly. No use in avoiding it. Either it’s their personality, or yours. Scratch that, it’s theirs. Just don’t drink too much go-go juice one night and get the confidence to finally tell the asshole down the hall why you don’t like his face, especially in front of a crowd with no shirt on. It sucks.
People you hung out with a lot in the first months will be strangers by the end: Even if you chilled in their rooms every day, went drinking or to the rippers with them every night, by the time your finals come around the only way you’ll talk to them is if they’re in your class and you need their notes. Even that girl you tried to pick up who got chubby. Don’t bother trying to be nonchalant when you see them. In fact, don’t even bother with the fake hello or any of that. No one cares that much. If they were interesting in the first place, you’d still be getting mangled with them. So who cares?
The “you will change for the better” statement is a lie: Sure, you’ll change. You may become more responsible, more dependable, more mature, whatever. But for every good trait you acquire, you’ll pick up half a dozen crappy ones that people will notice pretty quickly. For example, every student fits the definition of an alcoholic. So don’t go home for the summer and expect everything to be cool. Your parents are going to get pissed off a lot because of it. You’re also going to gain even more disgusting living habits that will scare your friends and family. Can't avoid that one, I’m afraid. There’s more to tell, but I don’t feel like typing them all. Ill leave it for you to discover, kind of like a shitty scavenger hunt.
Trying to change yourself at school is a waste of time: When you left, you might have been the cool jock, or the hippy valedictorian, but when you go away, chances are you’ll try and change yourself for some reason. Take my advice: Don’t. It won’t work. As hard as you might try to be the smooth-talker, or the emo guy, or the chick magnet, whoever you really are will fuck all that up. Getting new clothes, adopting a new attitude or anything like that won’t make a whole hell of a lot of difference in the end. It’s just not worth the hassle. Besides, you could spend that time converting beer into pee.
Don’t try and show off your drinking skills: For every person who thinks they can drink most people under the table, there are at least 50 others near you who are booze sponges. Don’t challenge new people to drinking contests, or profess your well-honed drinking skills publicly or your pride will get a swift kick in the goolies (and by that I mean your nards). The end result will be either: a) you puke like crazy, b) you pass out and suffer the embarrassment later, c) you black out completely and wake up to a nice shaming demonstration, or d) you kill your liver and end up getting a tube shoved up your wang and another down your throat to pump out all the cheap vodka you drank.
Don’t go out of your way to piss off someone for fun: You never know if that scrawny kid down the hall has a black belt in jiu-jitsu, or that kid who likes lacrosse is really on the varsity team and could beat the living shit out of you if he really felt like it. Besides, nobody likes an asshole (except some women, but I’m not going there).
Don’t bitch and whine that you can’t get laid: Girls shouldn’t be applicable here. Any female who utters these words is either mega super duper fugly or a shemale of some kind. Guys on the other hand, should know this. Despite what “they” say about frosh week and the early parties, you are NOT guaranteed some ass eventually. Fact is, a good number of guys don’t get much ass the entire year! Nothing to be ashamed of, just because you fooled around with a girl at the bar your first week and went back to her dorm for some sweet lovin’ with her and her roommate and some hot wax….ah, I lost my train of thought.
Anyhow, don’t beat yourself up (and no, I don’t mean like that). With all the stuff you’ve just learned, hopefully you can hookup with a real woman, or women, and restore balance to the Force. But most of all, don't become an idiot like me.