Monday, June 10, 2013

Old Dogs, New Tricks. And Grumpy Cats.

It is June, which means graduation party-season is in full swing. Along with observing the “Congratulations Graduate” cakes and school colored-helium balloons at grocery stores, I also have been reminiscing about my own transition from high school to college.

Time flies.

The day I moved into my dorm room at Central Michigan University, it was raining. Hard. I remember because I felt like it was an omen, but I was trying to pretend it wasn’t a sign. Rain meant good luck. It did.

There were four of us living in the dorm. I was the second person to arrive. And with my twin-sized flower comforter from Target, a green shower caddy and overly highlighted hair, I felt prepared. 

OK, that’s BS. I was scared. And no shower caddy could contain my anxiety. Or my nerves. But at least they’d be squeaky clean. And my Neutrogena shampoos and Plumeria shower gel would all be in one spot. Please don’t let me get a roommate that steals my stuff, I thought.

Facebook was a Brand New Thing back then. We're talkin' just one profile picture, no wall, and  "Looking For: Whatever I Can Get" was a relationship selection on your profile. In my reminiscing, I also found my First Facebook Profile Picture Ever. Behold, a wide-eyed Teen Lindsay. And proof I really did have overly highlighted hair:

As a country girl who graduated from high school with a whopping 87 kids, I had a right to be scared to go to college. I mean, we all have a right to be scared of anything new. But college? College is a whole new animal. It’s like… Let me think. OK, high school was a cat—maybe a grumpy cat, the kind of cat that hacks up hairballs and hisses at only you and no one else so everyone laughs when the cat walks near you. So it was a pain. But you figured out how avoid the cat’s bad attitudes, or play with the Lazer pointer, or rub it’s belly, but not on the left side because it hisses at you if you touch the left side.

But then you trade in the grumpy cat. And you get a cheetah.

If high school is the grumpy cat,  college is the cheetah. A fast freakin’ cheetah. With lots of spots. And it moves so fast, so it’s hard to keep up. But you have to. You have to. Or else you won’t make it—it will run you over. Or eat you alive, I suppose.  

Sorry. This is getting dramatic. Hold on.

Hallmark cards refer to college as “the real world.” I suppose this is because you have to make yourself go to class. And the food isn’t homemade.  And you have to make your bed and do the dishes and vacuum and stuff. But I still think college, despite its cheetah-ness, isn’t quite the Real World.  You are in a bubble. A bubble of classes and dudes with flat-billed hats and girls with Tiffany’s jewelry and Coach bags.You are in a drunken haze of new experiences and UV Blue. You’re bumping at the 18 and up clubs, and grinding out papers about osmosis and nonverbal communication.

And you aren’t alone in any of it.  You’re “all-in-this-together”, High School Musicall tune-style. Sometimes the classes suck. Sometimes the professors suck. Sometimes the roommates suck.

But maybe, just maybe, they don’t suck. That you find a group of girls who you can have fun with for four years. That you discover this random BIO 101 class and LOVE it and go on to be this freakin' awesome biologist who, like, saves the whales or studies West Nile virus or publishes an awesome book on the proper nesting environment for bluebirds. And if that was or is you--the bluebird nesting person-- please get ahold of me because my mother is currently mourning the loss of our bluebird couple in the backyard. It's sad. 


College can be scary, but it also is a way to break down the walls. Try new things. Meet new people.  And of course it sucks at first. It’s new. It’s uncertain. We as human beings don’t always do well with new and uncertain. We are old dogs that constantly are thrust into new situations, and suddenly, we are puppies with no clue what the difference is between the water dish and the toilet bowl.

But we learn. And as pups, we are capable of learning new tricks. Especially if we aren’t alone in it all.

So, my dear upcoming college freshman, I say to you as you take your trips to Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond: college is a time to figure out who you are. So figure it out by trying.

On purpose.

Because you are a new pup. And it’s time to leave the grumpy cats behind.

And if you don’t drink out of the toilet bowl, you still may find your head in there once in awhile. It’s okay.

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