I Should Have Gotten College Right the First Time

April 30, 2009

I remember my first time at a college orientation. We had just entered a new millennium, and I was a shy young lad of eighteen years wearing pants that had leg openings as wide as my waist. I smoked a pack of Camels a day and I thought Southern Comfort was the greatest drink you could have. I was going to be an elementary school teacher, and my life was going to be rich and fulfilling.

I don’t think I need to explain why all of those things didn’t work out together.

It didn’t mean so much to me then, though. I was young and invincible, I’d have time to get my life together later. It was true, I did. I do. I’m doing it now, and even though I’m closer to 30 than I am to 20, I don’t feel like I’m all that behind. In a lot of ways, I still feel the same way I did when I was 18, like I have all the time in the world and that there’s no need to rush anything. I’m certainly older, thankfully wiser, and more responsible by necessity, and it all feels natural. Some people get out of high school and get it done, and that’s great for those people. I’m not one of those people; I couldn’t do that. I wasn’t mature enough, I was prepared enough, I wasn’t confident enough.

I would give anything now to change all that. Why? Because I am TIRED.

Seriously, I am exhausted in ways that I never imagined possible. I didn’t even really do anything today. I slept a full eight hours last night, even. I DIDN’T EVEN DO ANYTHING YESTERDAY. It’s after midnight, though, and that means I’m tired. I quit smoking years ago, and even though I keep a nice bottle of bourbon on the dresser, it hasn’t been opened in weeks. I downed a few pints over the weekend, sure, but I didn’t even feel that next morning. The fact of the matter is that between my age and the fact that, between work and school, I have two full-time jobs, I’m starting to fall apart.

I’ve got to be honest, it doesn’t feel all that fair. I mean, I’m only 27. That’s not old. Hell, if I were a professional athlete, statistics would tell me that I was about to have my breakout season. I am not an athlete, though, and 27 is not 18. Back then, I would be throwing myself into the pit at hardcore shows, then sit at booth in Denny’s until dawn slipping vanilla schnapps into my coffee. Now, I’m listening to public radio and wondering what the hell I’m still doing up. My mind is even slipping. I’ve been so busy writing this entry trying to work in a line about my hair turning gray (my hair is turning gray) that I’ve forgotten where I was going with this.

I wish I’d realized then what going to college really means to me. Not because I wish I was doing something else, but because it’s such a difficult thing to balance as life becomes more complicated. I was overwhelmed by the freedom I felt when I graduated high school, and my early college career suffered as a result. Now I’m tired, and I never used to be tired before. I know now that when I had all that freedom and when I had all that energy was absolutely the best time to make a spectacular commitment like going to college and applying myself to the best of my ability.



One Response to “I Should Have Gotten College Right the First Time”

  1. donata426 said

    The important thind is that you recognize your past mistakes. This is what I have to keep telling myself; I’m 21, and I feel as though life has passed me by, that I missed out on my golden years, and now all I have to look forward to is work. But I’m being foolish, and so are you. I’m sorry you’re so tired; I know that feeling, and it’s probably the worst in the world. But you’ve got time. Take advantage of it. Try living like you’re going to die tomorrow. It’s quite the rush.

    Responsibility coupled with spontaneity is perhaps the best combination since PP&J.

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