50th Edition, Education

Does it get any better?

By Denebola
Published: February 2011

By Sam Lanckton,
Volume 32
December 23, 1992

The disappointing thing is that I’m not bitter anymore. I used to thrive on bitterness, it was what got me through the day. I would wake up in the morning and think about how much I didn’t want to go to school. Then I would go to school and think about how much I didn’t want to live in Newton. Then I would go home and think about how much I didn’t want to live at home anymore.
I would go to parties and think about how much I didn’t want to be at them. I would see girls wearing those goddamned things on their wrists and think about how much I wanted to kill them. I would listen to locker room braggings and think about how much I didn’t want to hear it.
Now I wake up and I’m happy to go to class, I’m learning what I want to learn. I get into class and see people who four months ago I never met but now are some of the most important people in my life. I come back to my room and enjoy the fact that my clothes can be littered everywhere and my stereo can be turned up to eleven and no one is going to tell me to change a single thing.
I go to parties (go to them, not wander around wishing I could find them off Parker Street) and meet more people. The cops never come in and kick anyone out, the neighbors don’t complain. The neighbors are more college students throwing another party. The girls—ah, the girls. I mean, yeah, I’m still a pig, but I’ve learned something that I had great difficulty grasping in high school: you can be attracted to a girl and respect her mind, too.
I’m still a wacky, nutso sort of a guy, but nobody looks at you funny if you want to talk about how you liked that Plato reading.
Basically, if college and high school were in WWF, college would be Hulk Hogan and high school would be one of those guys named John Martin or something who always start to win and then get demolished. Take heart, Southies: it gets better and better as soon as you get out.
I’m not claiming that college solves all your problems. Nothing solves all your problems. There will still be some classes you hate, though the nice thing is that you’re not going to have to sit in detention hall if every once in a while you miss that class. You’ll still find people you really don’t like, but unless you go to a really small college, you’re dealing with a much larger population. The whole clique thing is dead and gone when you get to college.
And that’s the worst thing about Newton South. I hate bringing it up because when you talk about the evils of cliques you sound like a cheeseball from hell, or at least somebody who watched “Can’t Buy Me Love” one too many times. The thing about college is, you can hang out with whomever you want to hang out with, and nobody is going to call you a loser because of it.
Terms like loser don’t really apply. In fact, people who in high school were losers stand as good a chance as anyone at making it socially in college. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think college is all about redefining yourself. You are who you are, and who you are was more or less formed by the time you were six years old. You redefine yourself to a certain extent. I traded in my Red Sox hat and round glasses for a ski cap and sleek frames, but I’m still the same person.
You learn who that person is. In Newton you stand a good chance of taking the same girl to the prom that you walked to kindergarten with. In college when someone meets you they don’t know your history.
One of the most interesting things you learn in college is who other people think you are. Their views aren’t clouded by knowing that you dressed like a loser for a Brown Bash, or that you were unwelcome in Goodwin. Instead, they see you as you are, no strings attached, and so you get to see yourself.
I do miss Newton, not much and not often, but I miss it. The diners I eat at now don’t know the first thing about making an egger. New York City only has six Dunkin’ Donuts, and the closest one is three blocks from my house.
There are some Saturday afternoons where I would thoroughly enjoy heading over to a football game and jamming on my xylophone with the Newton South Marching Band. There are teachers I learned from in high school who mean more to me than any college professor probably ever will. And there is a certain unmatchable camaraderie to driving around aimlessly on Saturday nights, looking for the party. But don’t be afraid of missing that.
College, at least based upon my experience, is the best thing that can happen to you. It introduces you to new people, it opens you up to new ideas, it teaches you things you really want to learn, it lets you choose how to spend your time and most importantly, it’s fun, fun, fun. So what if I’m not a bitter young man anymore? At least I don’t live in Newton.

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