The Endless Reminiscence of Your College Days

This year will be my final year of college. It was just three years ago when I packed my two suitcases and my family drove me down to Urbana-Champaign. After a two-and-a-half-hour drive, that's how my freshman year began – on the fifth floor of a dorm, right in the middle of the pandemic.

Here I was, wearing a mask, turning the doorknob to my dorm room, numbered 509.

View from my window

What was I feeling like? What was I thinking about? I’ll explore those thoughts and what I learned about college, the world, and myself in an essay to be published sometime next summer.

The semester hasn’t even started, and I’m already thinking about the end.

“The last fall ever as a student.”

But why think about the end when the end isn’t here yet?

I don’t know, honestly. This has to be a cultural thing ingrained in people’s minds. Perhaps it's a modern American cultural habit centered around nostalgic reflections on endings.

This is what I call the endless reminiscence. I suspect the “OMG, I’m about to graduate, let’s do everything we can” will be higher as my graduating class never had a high school graduation.

I don’t think it matters that much, except for the fact that it contributes to the scarcity of ritualistic experiences that a majority of individuals undergo. Among these, graduation—whether from high school or college—stands out as one of the rare ceremonies that signifies the culmination of one's childhood and the commencement of adulthood. The start of pursuing one's aspirations with no excuses.

I've noticed that people are more emotionally sensitive about endings. This is why many people prefer to watch long-running TV shows with no definitive end, rather than movies with a clear beginning, middle, and end.

These reflections hide a more important truth: we are losing trust in others, and as a result, in ourselves. If you can’t trust yourself, how will you trust your future will be good?

It's as if our souls crave the continuity that life's fleeting nature denies.

But wait a second, I just realized something.

Let’s scratch all those reasons. You know what it really is?

One of the dumbest and most senseless ideas of all time: “College is the best time of your life.”

I first heard the high school version, and I thought it had to be the stupidest thing. You are really going to peak in high school?

Then, college started and I started hearing versions, “OMG. College is such a fun time. It’ll be the best time of your life. You don’t have to worry about jobs, responsibilities, waking up early, and you all have to worry about tests, homework, and parties.”

I almost threw up after hearing that. It was too graphic for me. You would rather worry about tests, homework, and, for fuck’s sake, parties?

This is one of those moments where if you don’t think deeply about what you want or what life is about, you’ll start thinking you’re crazy. But remember: In a world of crazy people, the sane ones are “crazy.”

When Larry Ellison was in college, someone told him that he would look back on his school days as being the best years of his life. He replied, “If that’s true, I’m going to kill myself right now.”

While my feelings may not be as strong as Larry’s, the essence rings true.

College cannot be the best time of your life. Are you fucking kidding me? Even if it was remotely true (it’s not!), why would you ever tell that to yourself? So you can be sad for the rest of your life, keep coming back to campus for football games, and reminisce about your college days until you die?

Every year, college seniors have bucket lists of things they wish they do before graduating such as exploring all the campus buildings, making new connections, trying out a particular restaurant, taking enjoyable classes, pursuing their true interests, attending a performance, or any other experiences they might have missed out on.

But my friend, hold your horses!!! You should’ve done that shit back when you were a freshman.

Not now.

College is over. Why are you thinking about college when you’re almost gone?

Think about what’s next. Think about what excites you.

Think about what you love doing. Think about what you love doing.

This whole college nostalgia fiasco is so wonderfully portrayed by one of my favorite movies, Accepted.

There’s a scene where two inseparable best friends. One of them, a guy named Bartleby thinks for himself and finds his own path in college. Meanwhile, the other friend Schrader joins a frat and lives the “college is the best time of your life” bullshit.

In the following scene, Schrader's fraternity coerces him into putting a hot dog costume, a stunt designed to humiliate him. The following exchange unfolds between the two:

SCHRADER: Do me a favor, ask me about my wiener really quickly.

BARTLEBY: Schrader, no.

SCHRADER: Guys, my brotherscould be watching me right now. Just ask me about my wiener, please.

BARTLEBY: Why are you doing this?

SCHRADER: What do you mean?

BARTLEBY: Come on. You're...This...You're humiliating yourself, buddy.

SCHRADER: You know what, B. Don't mess with me! These are the happiest times of my life, all right?

BARTLEBY: Schrader.

SCHRADER: I'm so happy, I'm the happiest. I'm happy!

SCHRADER: (ignores Bartleby and continues screaming to random people) Hey! Ask me about my wiener!

Please watch the 90-second clip. You will immediately know what I mean. I love Accepted so much that I would love to make a movie about a similar topic. Know anyone who can help or fund? Let me know.

As I think about my last year of college, I'm steering clear of indulging in nostalgia and manufactured sorrow. Instead, I will feel grateful about what I’ve learned, appreciative of the people I learned from, and excited about the future because that’s what’s coming. And sure, a few memories here and there.

Forget bucket lists, memories, and reminiscing about endings.

Every beginning has an end, and every end is a new beginning.

And that’s a good thing!!!!

We need to let things end so new and better things can flourish. But this isn’t something you can kind of believe, you need to fully trust.

You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

—Steve Jobs

Personally, I wholeheartedly trust that if I follow my obsessions and my curiosity without compromising my values, everything will simply work out.

So as much as you’re sad about college ending, do you really want to be in your college town for the rest of your life? It’s ok, grow up, and move on.

In today’s world, there are many overrated sentiments. One of them, undoubtedly, is this John Mayer nostalgia extravaganza, where we're endlessly wandering through old times, pretending to be time travelers with our emotions and invisible guitars.

Don’t get me wrong, I admire John Mayer greatly. I’ve been learning guitar, and the guy is a true inspiration.

Let’s use one of my favorite John Mayer songs as an example. I recommend playing the song and coming back here to read the lyrics:

"A great big bang and dinosaurs
Fiery raining meteors
It all ends unfortunately
But you're gonna live forever in me
I guarantee, just wait and see

Parts of me were made by you
And planets keep their distance too
The moon's got a grip on the sea
And you're gonna live forever in me
I guarantee, it's your destiny

Life is full of sweet mistakes
And love's an honest one to make
Time leaves no fruit on the tree
But you're gonna live forever in me
I guarantee, it's just meant to be

And when the pastor asks the pews
For reasons he can't marry you
I'll keep my word and my seat
But you're gonna live forever in me
I guarantee, just wait and see"

- "You're Gonna Live Forever in Me" by John Mayer

In You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me, my guy John understands that “it all ends” and that every interaction, memory, and nostalgia will “live forever” in us.

How cool is that? It's a sentiment worth treasuring, rather than allowing it to evoke melancholy.

This is exactly how John Mayer sees it. My boy John believes “The greatest therapy in the world is to play music and say as you hear yourself “I’m not a piece of shit.””

As soon as I heard that, it struck me that writing has been my anchor of sanity. It's my means of untwisting the complexities of the world and untangling the emotions within me. It’s exactly how I realized that feeling nostalgic about college ending isn’t the framing I want to have as my college years come to an end.

We all require outlets for our emotions, which is why I strongly urge you to discover a means of channeling your energy—be it through a project, artistic expression, or the pursuit of new knowledge. It's a method to cut through the fog of nostalgia and truly embrace the joy of the life that awaits you beyond college.

The end of college is approaching, and I’m focusing on what comes next by using every opportunity to find my life’s work by creating cool projects.

I want to follow my curiosity, follow my obsessions, and create cool projects with cool people. I aspire to initiate projects that rouse people from slumber and facilitate their understanding of life's essence. Life is a precious thing, and squandering it on trivial pursuits or dwelling in past melancholy is a disservice to yourself.

We are born, to live, reproduce, and die. It can’t get more cyclical than that, and your nostalgia won’t help break this unbreakable cycle.

Let’s learn from the beauty of the cycle of life and remember that “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” [1]

(Big sigh)

Anyways, this is me during my freshman year after a "feeling cute" moment.

Making memories, right?

So, rather than dwelling on your own freshman year and college memories, GET EXCITED ABOUT THE FUTURE!!!!!

HERE WE COME!!! The present and the future is truly exciting, and everything in between is so exciting.




[1] This is, of course, from the classic Closing Time by Semisonic.


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Tags: collegepersonalphilosophy