A Message from a Has-Been

by Hayley Westwood

Every year around this time, I get weirdly jealous of college freshmen and the four years of pure gold they’re about to embark upon.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the stage of life I’m in now, but part of me will always miss that time of life when all your best friends were within an arm’s reach and the world was your oyster.

I remember starting college and upper classmen telling me to live it up because “it goes by so fast!” But that’s something you truly can’t appreciate until it has, in fact, gone by and you find yourself shaking your head in disbelief that your time to grow up and move on has actually come.

So, being that I’m feeling very nostalgic today, I’d like to share a few words with those who are starting their college journeys, and maybe to pull on the heart strings of all you other has-beens like me.

1.) Don’t take for granted your ability to find a friend at roughly any hour, day or night, who is willing to go get ice cream or a Dr. Pepper (a “Barn” drink, if you’re lucky enough to be in Stillwater) with you.

2.) Procrastination is okay – sometimes the most fun you can have is pulling all nighters with your best friends, which often leads to more bitching about the class and test than it does actually preparing and studying for it.

3.) Getting lost is normal. Just when you think you have campus figured out, you’ll inevitably exit a building through a door you’re not used to because you’re caught up in a massive flow of people and then end up making an entire loop around campus before you figure out where your next class is. Don’t freak out.

4.) Go to Date Parties. Dressing up like idiots and drinking a little too much will provide you with a lifetime of hilarious stories and memories, and sometimes regrettably, photographic evidence. But don’t worry about that last part for now.

5.) Be in shows! If you get even a shred of joy from singing, dancing or performing, you should be in a show. You’ll meet people you wouldn’t have otherwise and, as a group, form a bond that’s unlike any other. You’ll also learn how to harmonize, “cheese hard,” and occasionally learn to live with wearing embarrassingly tight spandex costumes. (Okay, that last one may scar you for life, but you’ll be stronger for it, nonetheless.)

6.) Go on random road trips. If your friend suggests you drive four hours with a few other friends you barely know as soon as you get out of class to spend the weekend at the Texas State Fair – do it. You won’t regret it. And you just might end up with a couple of best friends out of the deal.

7.) Spring Breeeeeaaaak! Okay, it’s a total cliché. A bunch of college kids playing drinking games on the beach for a week, staying up all night and sleeping in late only to do it again and again. Getting wayyyy too tan and sharing hilarious St. Patrick’s Day outings. It will take you a couple of days to recover, for sure. But you’ll never get to do this again, so live it up. (Just be safe! Ahhh…a sure sign of my has-been status.)

8.) Invite your friends home to meet your family. Maybe they’ve come to school from far away and can’t make it home for a holiday or even just for the weekend. Invite them home with you! Doing puzzles and decorating Christmas trees in a snowstorm with your friend’s family, or your friend dying Easter eggs with yours? Building blocks for friendships that will stand the test of time.

9.) It’s okay to change your major. Let’s be real – not everyone knows what they want to be “when they grow up” as seniors in high school. So choosing a major is kind of a big deal. If you realize a year or two in that your goals and dreams have changed – don’t settle. Do what’s ultimately going to make you the happiest in life. A few inapplicable classes won’t be the end of the world. Talk to your advisor and make the switch!

10.) Don’t underestimate the importance of choosing a seat on your first day of class. Every now and then you might get lucky enough to sit by someone who becomes an amazing friend and study partner, who you might just spend hours having coffee dates and lunch breaks with, as well.

11.) Get involved. Be a part of the campus! Don’t feel the need to overdo it, but being a part of a few active groups on campus, whether Greek life or something pertaining to your major, can greatly improve your college experience and lend itself to a lot of great life experience that will come in handy down the road. (Think job interviews, friends.)

12.) Go to your school’s athletic events. Scream your head off cheering for your teams – leave on cloud nine when they win, and when they lose, bask in the fact that thousands of your fellow classmates are feeling your pain, too. Your disappointment will likely dissipate later that night by sharing a few bottles with your friends.

13.) Speaking of drinking with your friends – TAILGATE. Take advantage of the has-beens alums who have awesome food and drinks to offer and are feeling extra generous because almost every weekend in the fall, they get to briefly pretend like they’re back in college, just boozing it up and having fun with their friends. (They also happen to have more money now, which means more beer and better food.)

14.) And lastly, because I just have to say it, even though you won’t really know what it means until you’re a has-been, too – don’t take it for granted. At no other point in your life will you have so many of your favorite people in one place. You’ll graduate, your friends will move across the world, and you, too, will find yourself feeling unnaturally envious of college freshman every fall, and looking forward to football season so you can somewhat rekindle what you knew and loved of your college experience.

Here’s to it being the greatest season of the year – college football season! And here’s to all the other has-beens who wear their alum-status as an immensely proud badge of honor.

-by Hayley Westwood

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