I recently wrote and published and article for my school newspaper, Le Provocateur, about different things incoming freshmen needed to know in order to survive. Naturally, there were things I simply couldn’t publish. These are those things:
- Everyone poops. Period.
So maybe someone did tell me this back when I was four and my mother read the book to me, but in an age where girls are supposed to poop glitter and never fart, I think it warrants repeating. Because who has the energy to set alarm clocks at random times so you can go when no one else is in there? Who has the time to make a detour to the deserted campus center bathroom? No one. So get over yourself and realize that those things that go on in the bathroom? They happen to everyone else, too.
- Fun? It doesn’t hurt.
Because which fifty-year-old says to their children, “yeah, I remember that night I got a lot of sleep… it was awesome”? Because, as cliché as it sounds, these are years you want to remember. Because amidst your duties as a student, the stuffy professors and library cubicles, not only is laughter okay, it’s encouraged. Because this is where it gets personal for me.
When I was a freshman, I was petrified of going out. I was petrified of poking my head into my neighbors’ door and I was petrified of all the people I didn’t know in a small space. And sure, it’s easy to be sympathetic; it’s easy to say that I was scared and nervous and it wasn’t my thing so it’s fine that I stayed in. But it wasn’t. Because you know what gave me the courage, the comfort, the ability to socialize at campus parties? Putting myself out there.
Stay up until 6 a.m. Procrastinate on that paper. Tell yourself you are going to that party because when you recall your college years for your grandchildren, you won’t be telling them about your GPA; you’ll be telling them about the night you put off a paper to go to the party of the semester.
- Loving school doesn’t make you a loser…
…so when you see posters for that lecture that actually sounds interesting, you better go. Don’t fear that no one will be there, don’t fear that you’ll miss out on something else going on, don’t think that caring about something automatically makes you less of a person. Because it’s those kinds of lectures, the ones that aren’t required, the ones that happen in the basement of some lecture hall, that are the kind that change your life.
- He’s going to break your heart…
…but maybe you should let him. Because maybe you need to let him make your heart smile and let him hold your hand and let yourself fall into the way his voice sounds when he says your name. And maybe you should let him push you out of it.
Because as much as falling in love shows you your capacity to feel, watching the sun rise because your broken heart bars you from sleep pulls you to the hallow depths of everything you’re capable of. You learn how empty it is down there and you learn how to pull yourself out. You learn that nothing says ‘strength’ like the way a mended heart looks—like a battle scar.
- Not everyone has had sex yet…
…so your rush to lose the v-card is pretty irrelevant. Your gut is a pretty strong thing, so you should trust that it will tell you when the time is right, when his name is right, when the way he holds your hands when he kisses you is right.
- It’s okay to choose passion.
Everyone’s going to say this one: it’s a pretty great thing that you’re going to college. You’re lucky to have this because so many other kids don’t. But what people might not say is that you now have a responsibility.
And I don’t just mean to show up to your classes and to actually try and challenge yourself. Yes, please, do all of those things. But what I mean is to pursue the thing that you are meant to do.
Because considering the empowerment you gain from your education, it’s kind of a mockery to surround yourself with subjects, a future job, that makes you miserable. Because the lucrative job your parents are pushing you into might put food on the table, but if it’s not your passion then what will feed your soul?
I firmly believe that the purpose of education is to give people their voice. We talk and talk all day but at a certain point that doesn’t really seem to matter because nobody else can really hear our voices. And so we go to school, and we read books and learn these theories and make these discoveries and all of this is facilitated by people who have found their voices.
And one day you’re going to find your voice, too. Who are you to try and silence it?