I’ll be graduating from Oregon State University in two terms, assuming I pass Math 111.
Looking back on my time here has been bittersweet. Sometimes I think, “Wouldn’t it be great to do it all over again?” Other times, I think, “Thank God I only have two more terms.”
College can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. For me it’s less about my degrees, and more about learning to be a grown-up.
In my college career I’ve done a lot of smart things, and a lot of stupid things. It’s important to understand the most important thing you can do as a new student is learn. Learn from every experience, including the ones you’re not paying for and aren’t proud of. At my time at OSU, I’ve joined a sorority, became involved with ASOSU, wrote for the Barometer, worked at the radio station, gained 30 pounds, cried over a few boys, got so drunk I threw up, learned to nurse a hangover, held other girls’ hair back, set the curve in a class, failed a class (or two), lost my faith, found it again — and began to figure out who I am, and what I want.
When I came to Oregon State University, I was new to everything. Everything was new and exciting. Even the things I did all the time, such as laundry, were exciting because I was doing it in the laundry room of my very own dorm.
But — as with the shine and sparkle of all new and exciting things — eventually it faded, and what was left was a lot of stubborn glitter in my dormitory carpet.
I’m still working on becoming an adult, and more importantly becoming an adult I’m proud of. The thing about slowly becoming independent is your parents aren’t around to make excuses for you. My biggest challenges were the three Bs: Boys, booze and balance.
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About the three Bs — and, really, everything else — it’s mainly deciding what you want and then not compromising.
Boys is a topic that seems pretty self-explanatory, but for a lot of women the fear of being alone can overshadow self-respect and standards. I learned pretty quickly that I wasn’t OK with a man showing up late for a date and not calling, or treating me like “one of the boys;” not calling when he said he was going to. And if he isn’t brave enough to call to ask me on a date, then we don’t need to go on one. I’ve had a few relationships in college, but the majority of my time here, I’ve been single. I’m OK with that. I’d rather be single and happy than with someone and compromising.
Booze: It’s partially a great idea and partially a horrible social experiment. It isn’t the first or second drink that kills you, it’s the third: The third drink will take your common sense and tap-dance on it. My suggestion: Drink less and think more.
Balance. Oh, the struggle of the century. Here’s the lesson: Not everybody is Oprah. It is completely unrealistic to think you can do every single thing OSU has to offer, sleep and graduate. It. Will. Not. Happen. For me there’s a lot of pressure to succeed, mostly from me. I like to be involved with a lot of things: That way, if I’m not great at one thing, I have five other things I could be great at. But, it’s a bad move. Pick the things that are important, the ones that will help you get where you want to be and most importantly, the things you enjoy.
I’m 22. I work three jobs, go to school full-time and still have to call home and ask for money. The best thing I can tell you is try everything, but say no to whatever doesn’t get you excited. Be respectful, always. Don’t over-apologize; not everything in the world is your fault. Don’t be late. Don’t second-guess yourself. Learn to take criticism, and then move on.
Most importantly, learn how to learn.
Kristy Wilkinson completed a reporting internship at the Corvallis Gazette-Times during the summer of 2013.