Eli Diamond navigates his first Christmas Break back home.
“It’s only been a semester, but already I feel college has done a number on all of us.”
My dear friend Michelle said this to me during lunch the other day, and it took me a while to realize what she meant. I had seen numerous college folk since I’d returned from school, and to me, Michelle seemed exactly the same. A little more confidence maybe, but more or less the same girl who I sat next to for four years in high school. I was really surprised though, by one of my friends.
This friend, who shall remain nameless, spent her last year with me driving around, occasionally smoking weed or drinking, and partying. When I called her up and we agreed to meet up, I was ready for some more insane adventures that all high school kids dream college kids experience everyday. Instead, I was greeted by a girl who decided to go substance-free, hated parties, and was on her way to becoming a frugavore (only eats raw fruits and vegetables. Vegan to the nth degree).
We talked for a bit about how college really isn’t the fantasy that high schoolers think it is; about how the party life is a kind of a lame substitute for real life. We both were semi-partiers in high school, and spent lengthy periods looking forward to college frat parties, but now, nothing could really disgust us more. To us, college is where you learn to be a social human being, not where you walk around passed out drunk people who are almost certainly going to be taken advantage of.
Some of our friends also spent time living the high school fantasies that they never had, only to discover that it really was not worth the wait. These experiences are what changed us. The realization that college is not some dreamland really brought us back to reality. And I feel that’s the change that Michelle was talking about. We all feel real to each other now. College is a different world for each of us, and we all have our stories right now about how we may have had that “one crazy party”, or that “god-awful teacher”, but the thing is, we’re relating in a way that high school students often fail to do.
Of course, I still do treat some of my friends the exact same, because in the end, I’m still Eli, and they’re still whoever they were. We connect on that high school level, but the distance has allowed us to connect deeper. I’ve heard it said that “absence makes the heart grow fonder”, and I concur.