You are about to enter a very, very exciting time in your life. Many of you are heading off to college! Or possibly to work in the fields, or to audition for a reality TV show. Who’s to say, really. For the sake of simplicity we’ll focus on college.
Sure, college is a time to “find yourself” and “get a degree,” but it is so much more. Primarily it’s a four year all-you-can-eat buffet and unprecedented exposure to love interests who haven’t watched you battle puberty. And as amazing as it is to find dating prospects unfamiliar with you in braces, the dining hall is the real show-stopper. Years from now when you’re expected to prepare your own meals every night (and likely feed famished ingrates as well), you’ll see the true glory in the pre-paid meal plan. Eat up.
Now, of course, the next few years of your life will not be entirely about buffets. They will be about coming up with exciting theme parties for your friends, and planning spring break. Also, going to classes when your social calendar allows.
Speaking of classes, let’s get real for a minute. Nobody is going to care what you major in. AT ALL. Nobody will give a shit. So, if you’re thinking of majoring in something hard and useless like Russian Literature, or something easy and moderately useful like Child Development, go with Child Development. Hell, go nuts and major in Dance! Unless you want to be a doctor, in which case you should probably major in everything that sounds hard and then head directly to the library. See you in a decade.
Really, the issue is this: you only have a few years to prepare for life as an adult, most of which will be spent sleeping if you’ve arranged your class schedule correctly. You will soon be a stranger in the strange land of womanhood, and you have a steep learning curve ahead of you.
To complicate things, you’re now entering a period where your love life will kick into high gear (I’m not promising this to be true. This is a generalization. I will not be held responsible if your love life does not take off in college).
Where was I. Ah yes. These romance-heavy years are fraught with high intensity emotions, and some of you may find yourselves prone to, ahem, theatrics. The stakes will feel very high. They will feel higher than they actually are by a long shot.
Try to keep this in mind: No matter how amazing your love interest seems, between the novelty of new romance, the freedom of being away from home, and the fraternity parties with dim lighting and suspect cocktails, things will feel charged in a way that has nothing to do with life in the real world. Nada.
The person you’re dating may seem highly desirable based on little more than a pleasing bodily scent, nice eyes, and ownership of a car. You may be tempted to assign bonus points for writing you poetry and/or playing the guitar. But listen up, girls. You will not give a shit about the poems and the guitar in a few years (probably you will still want your partner to smell good and have a car).
You must try to remember that you’re not a contestant on The Bachelor. Much as you may sometimes feel like it, there really is never a need to sob into a champagne flute before throwing your bikini-clad self into a hot tub. No level of angst warrants this reaction. And while it’s possible you’ll find “the one” in college, it’s just as likely that you won’t.
And anyway, that’s totally ok, because you know what works better without a significant other? Traveling!
Travel as much as possible. You will not be this unencumbered ever again. Sure you’re broke, but study abroad is technically still college. Are you with me here? Never again will you be given the option to live and study in Madrid, learning Spanish first hand while eating epic quantities of cheese and cured meats. When you’re 35 and raising a family do you think there will be an opportune time to visit Thailand where a drunk Canadian will cut you a mullet on a dare? Will you ever again have the chance to venture to an ancient Turkish Bath where topless, elderly women will steal your clothes and forcibly scrub you with brillo pads?
Ok perhaps I’ve gotten off track here. But the truth is this: NOW is the time for adventure. Be daring.
Also, be responsible. Soon you’ll be starting your first real job. Here’s the deal: in all likelihood you’ll be more energetic and optimistic than many of your colleagues, who have been around long enough to get discouraged by things like “the system” and “the man” and “reality.” Sure, you’ll be more clueless than everyone around you, but let’s not focus on that. Your newness can be an advantage; it can rejuvenate an office that might have become stale. So take the lead on a project. Propose a new idea. Do more than is expected and do it with enthusiasm. Be a spark.
A few other assorted tips:
- When you go out to eat you need to at least feign that you’re trying to pay. In the past you haven’t so much as had to gesture toward your purse and fumble around “looking” for money. Now you absolutely need to be prepared to fumble around pretending to look for cash. (Note: it’s good practice to actually have cash or a credit card on you, in the event that someone takes your pantomime seriously). Be prepared.
- Stop judging speed walkers and Jazzercisers. Keep your comments to yourself regarding the Curves for Women franchise. Yeah, I get it. It doesn’t look like real exercise to you. Yes, your teenage self manages to prance past these older women with ease on your way to Crossfit. You know why? Because you still have full control of your bladder. There will come a time when trying to perform even one lunge will result in the need for adult diapers, such is the deluge of urine. You will one day wish you could muster the energy for Curves. Try to keep this in mind for the next decade, it will make you more likable. Be understanding.
Mostly, this: Don’t worry so much.
This is perhaps the hardest. If I could go back and change one thing about the years in my life that are just ahead of you in yours, it would be this one thing. (Also, I wouldn’t wear heels to bars, but that’s secondary). Mostly, I would take back all the worry.
I wouldn’t spend weeks and months anxious over the relationship that ended, or the team I didn’t make, or the test that I bombed. It was a waste of time and energy, all that worry.
Life is full and rich and messy, and so much of that mess and fullness is in front of you. And the worries you have today will be replaced by a new set tomorrow, and next month, and next year.
And one day, as is the reality for all of us, you will be faced with something harder and bigger than you can imagine right now. And you will realize that things were perfect once, in their own way, though you didn’t see it at the time. Try to see it.
Try to see it.
Now of course there will be those of you reading this who are already facing the hard thing. But for many of you the true challenges are far on the horizon, mixed in with the great joys and great adventures of a life that has yet to unfold.
So, my friends, relax for the ride, head to the buffet, and eat up. And remember: nobody will give a shit what you majored in.
Need more laughter in your day? Follow A Mothership Down on Facebook! (A lot of the action is over there).
Want A Mothership Down delivered to your inbox? SUBSCRIBE HERE.