empathy

Things Not To Do In University

Hector Sos_1_ART

Looking back, a part of me wishes I could give my first experience in university a thorough do-over.

I wasted a lot of time and energy in engagements that held no water while lavishly using precious resources to drive myself away from the things which I really knew mattered but wasn’t mature enough to understand the importance of.

Still, it was a formative experience. Although I wasted a lot of time, there was wisdom to be found.

When I was in high school, a self-protective fear bordering on paranoia kept me away from many experiences. College gave me an additional confidence to live out these experiences: an unlimited sense of freedom. The ‘sense’ part of that newfound emotion could not possibly be more literal, however, since, as free as I felt, ironically, I was constrained by the limits of my own emotional maturity.

In so many words, I broke. I broke emotionally, I broke financially, I broke academically, I broke socially, I broke sexually, and I broke personally. I blindly waded through the awkward stage of a superbly late-onset adolescence.

Every moment was an opportunity to prove myself, to discover myself, to test myself, to break myself, to experiment with myself, to live with myself, and to share this extremely towering and ever-growing well of completely new sensations with everybody I knew. Unknowingly, I lost myself more thoroughly than one could hope to get lost even in the best of all possible situations.

Let’s get literal. I avoided responsibility. I skipped class. I bought too much weed for a sane person to smoke in a day, and finished it all in an hour. I ran over to people’s dorms to introduce myself and gave two or three reasons to bother them at some point in the coming semesters because I thought that would get me to ‘fit in’. I borrowed video games from them and spent too much time not doing the homework that should have superseded every other obligation.

I biked too many miles out of the downtown area only to run into strange, quirky, often less fortunate locals who threw their eccentricities at me in lonely fits of desperation. I went to socials to meet as many people as I thought I could possibly fit into my contacts list, because god knows ONE of them could score me the cheapest weed.

I desperately counted my time and used it as a basis for how many people I could innocuously sexually harass that week, be it by ogling them or unwelcomingly throwing flirtatious remarks their way. I connived my way out of one too many misguided remarks, only to knowingly increase my notoriety within my own circles.

I half-heartedly attempted to breeze through my career, relying only on the foolish confidence that only a twenty-year-old far too sure of who he is can claim will deliver for the entirety of his life.

I broke many hearts and forgettably exchanged phone numbers. I consumed enough empty calories to give anybody over the age of 30 a decent shot at serious health issues. I threw down and promised so damn much money I thought was my own. I dealt drugs, for heaven’s sake.

And, through it all, I became exactly the person that I never wanted to be. I unearthed my alcoholism and my borderline debilitating mental instability, and heated karma came to bite away imperceptible but vital sections of my soul. The moment of catharsis that came in discovering the dampness, uglyness, and loneliness of my own self-absorption. I breathe, think, and love through the pores of that flame.

I’d do a do-over, certainly, but I must admit that nothing would make me grow back again with the force and resilience that only the edge of selfishness can imbue you with.

Story by Mario Sibrian.