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A Mere Experience

“And that’s about the time she walked away from me/ Nobody likes you when you’re 23/And you still act like you’re in freshman year/What the hell is wrong with me?/My friends say I should act my age/What’s my age again?/What’s my age again?” – Blink-182

This weekend is Alumni Weekend, when former students of this fine institution come back to reunite with their fellow peers, stroll down memory lane, and bask in the fading glow that was “the best four years” of their lives.
Or so I assume.

To be quite frank, I have very little idea as to how you alumni are feeling at the moment. With less than two months until my own graduation, I’m very much in the nostalgic “last” stage of my collegiate career. You know: “This is my last Psych course,” “This is my last Spring Break,” “This is my last Fox Day,” etc. So I will admit that I am no authority on what it must feel like to come back to your alma mater, whether you graduated just last May or if you are coming back to Rollins after 50 years.

That being said, I do have a point of reference. It’s been almost a decade since I started high school as a freshman, and looking back on that year, I remember both the good and the bad. I remember being a part of my high school’s marching band as the only male flautist, with long, flowing locks that rivaled Fabio’s mane. I remember lugging all seven of my textbooks around all day long, because I was afraid I didn’t have enough time to get to my locker and to class all the way across campus without being late. I remember how I would run—literally at a dead sprint—to get to the cafeteria in order to be the first in line for a slice of pepperoni pizza, a warm cookie, and a cherry slushie. Just imagine a 14-year-old boy, hair down to his shoulders, an over-stuffed backpack causing him to physically hunch over, textbooks in hand, and bolting to the lunch room for what could only be considered “a meal for champions.”

So if you can’t tell—yes, I was a total dweeb back in the day. I still am at times, just with a bit more facial hair. I was laughed at, picked on, had my heart broken, and probably sustained irreparable damage to my spine. However, there were also high points to the experience. I helped start clubs and was a part of organizations that did a great deal of good during my time. With every embarrassing memory, there came with it a story to tell my future friends and hopefully my future children. Most of all, I met amazing people, some of whom I’m still very close with and keep in constant contact with.

I can’t say with certainty what I will remember most from college, but I can already say without a shadow of a doubt that it was a much more fulfilling and joyful experience than high school certainly was. I feel that’s the case for many people. I understand why people come back to their old alma mater: to relive old memories, indulge in a bit of nostalgia, and assess their position in life in the context of where they had hoped to be. Yet the most gratifying aspect of coming back is doing so having grown as an individual. Whether that means pursing a career you always wanted, marrying the person you always had a crush on, or finally getting out of your parents’ house, we all hope to constantly be moving forward in our lives.

When I started college and people told me that these would be “the best years of your life,” I thought, “Well, this sucks. I guess I have nothing left to look forward to now.” Now, I understand the sentiment of the statement a little more. Looking back on one’s past can be fun because we tend to overlook or flat-out forget all the all-nighters, regrettable hookups, and unfortunate hangovers, and instead remember only the good stuff: the skinny dipping in Lake Virginia, the drunken shenanigans on Fox Day, and the bonds of friendship and camaraderie that were built in such a short time.

I am glad to be leaving Rollins on such a high note, but I hope to God these aren’t the best years of my life. I’m looking forward to so much more. To you alumni, I hope that this was the case with you as well. I hope life got even better after graduation, just as a fine wine gets better with age. Finally, I hope that while you enjoy your weekend of remembrance at Rollins, you can take a second or two and lay a few wise words on us future alumni. I, for one, would greatly appreciate it.

The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of The Sandspur, its staff or Rollins College.

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