Well, here we are, Sparkler freshmen. You did it. You made it to October. Last time I promised that if we all made it this far, I’d tell you about the monumentally stupid thing that I did when I was a young’un like yourselves. To be honest, I was kind of counting on all of you quitting college and joining a circus so I wouldn’t have to tell this story. The same circus, actually. In my head there was a circus of Sparkler dropouts, and it was kind of great. But you surpassed all expectations, so here it goes:
I skipped class.
“WHAT,” you roar, feeling gypped, as the masses band together and throw things, booing. And bro, I feel you. I promised you a story. That isn’t a story. That’s practically a rite of passage. But what you must understand is that back when I was an eager frosh (as opposed to the bitter and often tired human disaster that I am now), I had never so much as faked sick. I had so many perfect attendance awards that it was disgusting. I once went to school, threw up in the bathroom, and then tried to go back to U.S. History. Accidentally sleeping through class was actually a recurring stress dream that I had the entire summer before college started.
So, it happened. I missed class, accidentally. You’re there with me? You’re on that level? Good. Here’s where things get interesting. It was an earth science class, and I was of the understanding that this class took place every Thursday at 5:00. And that was fine. That was cool. UNTIL... until, dear Sparklers, until I was told that the class was not once a week, but twice a week. Huh. Still not a big deal, right? People make mistakes.
…But I didn’t have this epiphany until the semester was almost over.
I didn’t just skip a class. I had, at that point, skipped HALF... OF... THE... CLASSES.
Whatever facial expression you're picturing me having when I figured this out, it's probably accurate. I think I left my body for a moment. Actually that fateful day was a Wednesday, so I had technically skipped more classes than I'd been to. By the time I got around to that part of the epiphany, I think I just went into the fetal position for half an hour, rocking back and forth and whisper-shouting, "THIS IS MY NIGHTMARE," over and over again. We'll never know how I didn't realize that the lessons from day to day weren't exactly corresponding. It's one of the great enduring mysteries of our time. The takeaway from all of this is that I didn't die or flunk out, and for some reason my recurring stress dream of sleeping through class began to involve werewolves. I don't know why, it just happened.
Anyway, keep that all in mind when you do your Big Stupid Thing, because it's kind of hard to top. (Also, if my mom's reading this, I'm sorry you had to find out this way.) But let's move on. It's October! The leaves are changing! Football games are happening! You're either losing or you're winning! (Or, if you go to school where I do, you're kind of doing both simultaneously. Go Blue!) Halloween's right around the corner, which means it's getting easier and easier to buy candy in bulk. Not just in terms of social acceptability, but also, you know, availability. The giant bags of Kit-Kats are just there now. So let's do some Real Talk.
1. The novelty of classes has worn off. A month ago you were getting there half an hour early and sitting up front. Now you're calculating how late you can leave and still make it on time, or at least before the professor. Also, you forgot to bring the textbook.
2. The weather's weird. Nobody's sure what to wear. A sweater? Shorts? Scarf or no scarf? What's going on?
3. You pretty much know where you stand with your roommate. One month is about all it takes for the "best behavior" state of first impressions to wear off, and for the two of you to realize who you're living with. By October, I think most of my friends freshman year had either come to an understanding with their roommate, or realized that their roommate was inevitably going to steal their money and lock them out of the dorm.
AND NOW THE ADVICE.
- If you haven't found a group of ridiculously close, tight-knit friends like all the movies said you would, DON'T SWEAT IT. This is not a now-or-never scenario. People in college make friends in so many ways it's RIDICULOUS. But if you want my sage counsel, there are a couple of topics that will never steer you wrong: 1) pizza, and the acquisition thereof, 2) Sorting the X-Men into Hogwarts houses, and 3) the pronunciation of "crayon."
- HALLOWEEN'S COMING. Party it up, or watch Hocus Pocus with a bag of Skittles. Don't do anything I wouldn't do. (That's not a hard-and-fast rule, because I usually unhinge my jaw like a snake and eat the whole bag of Skittles before Max even summons the Sanderson Sisters.)
- Go home for a long weekend, if you can get there and if you want to. It's been a month. You deserve to sleep in your own bed and see your dog.
- GO BUY A PLANNER OR SOMETHING. Maybe you didn't think you needed one when you got on this rollercoaster. But assignments are starting to pile up and midterms are on the horizon. I'm going to tell you to "budget your time" like I'm an Actual Adult, and you're not going to do it, and also I'm not going to do it, and we'll all die of homework-related stress. But at least one of us knew it was going to happen and barely tried to stop it, right?
Hang in there, Sparklers. You're FLYING through your freshman year, and you're lookin' good, too. If you ever have a specific question, don't be afraid to ask. I'm not your professor coercing people to come to office hours. I'm cool. I'm also kind of inspiring. I mean if I can pass a class that I accidentally just didn't go to, and for which I had zero aptitude (earth science? Plate tectonics? Something with magma?), I'm pretty sure you can do basically ANYTHING.
How'd you feel about your first month of college? Are you already drooling over the gigantic packs of bite-size Snickers that are currently available at your local grocery store? Did this post just make you realize that you've accidentally missed a month's worth of biology classes?