Over the past few weeks, I have heard stories of sending babies off to college for the first time from friends, neighbors and colleagues. One afternoon, as I watched my neighbors pack up their car to take their daughter, I thought about the journey ahead of her, which included the excitement of leaving home and the promise of an adult life full of choices, opportunity and INDEPENDENCE!!
But at the same time, she was to leave behind childhood comforts, parents, friends, boyfriends, a steady allowance and clean clothes which appear magically in your closet. I was witness to that moment in time when my neighbors’ daughter stepped from one world into the other. Maybe she never looked back.
Or maybe she was a bit like me.
My first pang of homesickness kicked in on day 6 or so. I wondered if I made a horrible mistake. I begged to come home. (“No” was the answer). I made my mom cry. (Still, “no” was the answer). This lasted only a week or two, then the lure of pure FREEDOM kicked in and I was a goner. I missed my home, family and friends, but the thought of being a real grown-up kept me focused and I figured out what I needed to figure out.
All of this musing got me thinking about asking the Collegiate Gods to grant me a Do-Over. And if I did, what would I actually do…over?
I would study harder.
Ok, 99% of you would say this. The other 1% are way smarter than we are, but have no idea how to play beer pong, so there. But in the grand scheme of things, I do wish I would have absorbed and retained more. I kick myself every time I watch Jeopardy. I now love learning - but just don’t have eight hours a day to dedicate to it.
I would be more involved in campus life activities, even the “angry, students-against-anything” ones.
The ice cold diversity shock of college can open your eyes to new ideas and cultures. They can extract a passion or interest you didn’t know you had. Who knew that the world was so much bigger than my little high school? Now that I see my friends and family a part of so many causes - it makes me realize that a young age, I could have made a greater impact. I wish I would have taken 10 minutes to read a flyer from someone in my dorm about what was going on in Darfur or really paid attention to the women who were fighting for better on-campus security. I now know how important all that it - and wish I would have supported (or understood the depth of it) sooner.
I would spend more time being a care-free student and less time worrying about my career path.
Feeling like I had to choose correctly…the right job, with the right salary and of course, it has to be something I’m passionate about and well, if you don’t love what you’re doing, you’re not doing it right and blah, blah, blah. That kind of self-applied, “lean in” pressure helped me achieve good grades, but I’m pretty sure I missed the point. I was there to learn and grow. It was not necessary to decide my future right then and there.
Notice I have not yet said anything about partying less. Not gonna do it.
I would thank my parents.
I don’t recall ever thanking them for the sacrifices they made so that I could attend any school I wanted. And I know I never thanked them for pushing me (gently) so that I could achieve whatever I wanted and be who I wanted to be.
In the end, I know I won’t get a do-over, but I still turned out okay. I’m happy, healthy and in a job that I love.
But if I did have a daughter or son to drop off at school, before that dorm room door closed on me, I would tell them this:
“Just do your best. Be a kid for just a little while longer. It will all turn out fine…and saying thanks doesn’t hurt either.”
So, if you were granted a collegiate do-over, what would you do…over?