18 August 2007

To the Class of 2011...

It's funny and awesome and more than a little disorienting to read the class of 2011's brand new plans and listen to them wonder about dorms and tutorials and roommates, because it doesn't seem like thaaaaat long since we went through the very same (or a similar) process. (It was nine years ago, young freshmen. I realize that, at 27, I am almost inconceivably old to an 18 year old.) A part of me envies the brand new Grinnellians, recalling all that my freshman year and my Grinnell time was, on the whole, to me.

A bigger part of me, though, would not trade 27 for 18, for anything. I *LOVE* being 27. I'm so much less angsty than I was nine years ago, so much less likely to binge drink or smoke too much out of sheer despair, just looking to get out of my own head. I remember, freshman year, sitting in Cowles over coffee and a muffin trying to explain to someone how upsetting I found the fact that I could never get out of my own body, my own brain, my own limits of perception and experience. ("It's like, did you ever see that episode of Duck Tales where The Beagle Boys were in that giant robot, inside his head, and stomping through Duckburg? That's like me!" "You have Beagle Boys in your head?" "No! It's like I'm in my own robot head -- I can't -- argh, you know what I mean!") God, that bothered me, at 18.

I worried what people thought of me, all the time. I chose to do or not do things based not on what I wanted, but what I thought I should do or who I thought I should be. I made decisions out of fear and shyness and worry. I said no when I should have said yes. I was sooooo awkward. I was so goddamn moody. I don't know how I hung on to any of the friends I met freshman year, or even sophomore year -- how the hell did you people stand to be around me? Other than the fact that you were 18 and 19, too. We all were.

27 is so much better. I feel so comfortable in my own skin, and so much less apologetic for who I am. I'm still awkward, and crazy shit still happens to me all the time, but I'm less embarrassed when it does. I laugh more, and drink less. I have a belly and the other day Natalie claimed to find a gray hair, but I don't care. It's cool.

So, to the class of 2011... enjoy the hell out of the next few years. They'll be exciting and fun, but crazy hard as well. There will be times when you're losing your mind, planning your escape, counting the minutes til you can leave. And when you hit those walls, just remember: your years at Grinnell may be golden, but they are not the only years that will be. It gets better and better.

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