Life is what we make of it. Each decision we make chooses the path we head down, twisting and turning with the good and the bad. College is one of the biggest decisions to make in life, what to become, where to go. I know what life has become because I choose to at least start college. What I don’t know is how my life would have turned out had I not taken the time to explore.
When my senior year of high school came around so did the pressure. «What college are you going to?» «What are you going to major in?» «You need to make something of yourself!» For someone who had no clue as to what she wanted to major in or where she wanted to go, no one would ever have guessed. I made sure everyone believed that I had a plan. I was going to go to Ferris State University and major in pre-medicine. Considering I was an honors student in high school, my plan was feasible. After all, most of the women of my family are RN’s or medical assistants. I wanted to be more than that, I wanted a better job. My family is difficult to reason with. What they wanted always overrode what I wanted. I chose to be a physician. In turn I made them happy by staying in the medical field and it made me happy because it was going for something greater. Any job outside of the medical field would not have been acceptable to them. I convinced everyone, including myself, that this was exactly what I wanted. It is amazing how a person can convince themselves of anything if they are told it enough times.
In the fall, I registered for some general education classes and moved in to my new home, the dorm room. Like any other freshman I went to orientation, met my roommate and classes got off to a good start, including my Algebra and Chemistry classes. I naturally seemed to do well in those subjects; however, my English and Humanities classes needed some work.
Campus life was so different from being at home with the family. There was no pressure, no rules, no one breathing down my neck expecting me to always be the best. It was an unusual feeling to have the freedom to just be me, to let go and have fun the way that I wanted to. I was finally an adult, ready to make my own decisions whether they are bad or good. And that is just what I was going to do.
My roommate was a year ahead of me and according to her, I had not experienced life. She meant that because I had never really partied before and my alcohol consumption was nil, I needed to become familiar with that aspect of life. Apparently everyone is supposed to party when they are in college. I drank more alcohol in that one night than how many a normal person is supposed to consume in a day and a half. Shots, fuzzy navels, whiskey, and more just didn’t sit well in a stomach used to nothing stronger then a Shirley Temple. She had me praying to the porcelain gods by early morning. According to what everyone was telling me the next day, I was so drunk not only did I act ridiculous in public, but I was also making the cops and firemen raise eyebrows when I almost fell into the college’s annual bonfire. That was the first time that I ended up missing a couple day’s worth of classes. Heaving, headaches, and dizziness are just not symptoms I cared to inflict on myself regularly. It was an experience I swore would never happen again.
My English and Humanities classes were not going well, and missing the class due to a hangover did not seem to make matters any better. I was falling too far behind. It didn’t matter how long I stared at the computer screen, willing the words to come, I was not able to produce a paper for my English class. It seemed that I had forgotten everything I learned in high school about how to write a well written paper in MLA format. Also, I could not seem to memorize all of the symbolisms of various famous paintings throughout history for my Humanities class. After the fifth week of torturing myself and losing sleep, I finally realized that no one was telling me that I had to continue attending those classes, after all the professors never seemed to care if I showed up or not. As an adult, I decided that it wasn’t necessary to continue going to class. I quit going and had the best night’s sleep I had in over 5 weeks. The only down side was the failing grade I ended up with, but even that didn’t really faze me. Unfortunately I still had to pay for the classes I failed.
My other major rebellious act created some problems for my relationship with my fiance. I decided as part of my final experiences of life to start seeing another man. I wanted to make sure that I experienced everything I could, make sure that I really wanted to marry my fiance. The relationship between my fiance and I had been uneasy with difficulties on another front, but I had been sure of what I wanted until I started in college and really started evaluating what I wanted in life. I saw the other man, John, for a couple of weeks. I disappeared from my house for over a week; no one knew where I was, if I was okay, or even if I was alive. I needed my space and John’s place was the answer. It was an experience, but not what I wanted for the rest of my life. The man was several years older than me and just not quite what I expected. John liked to dictate and as a new adult, it was stifling. The time with John was nothing more than a fling and enough for me to realize that what was waiting at home was more than I could ever hope for in a relationship.
Becoming an adult is an important transition in life. It is something that every person should go through. Some people go through their trials young, sixteen to twenty. Some people wait until their thirties to finally grow up and some people never do. I think that because I sowed my wild oats that first year out of high school, that my life is much richer than what it would have been if I waited to explore the world.
Had I not gone to college my life would have been drastically different. I would have married my fiance, Bill, right out of high school. We would have been okay for a couple of years, but I would have started having doubts. Was I really ready to settle down? Is Bill the right man for me? What if there was someone better out there? I would probably start exploring other options, not knowing for sure if he was the right guy for me. Cheating on my husband would cause my marriage to end with divorce within a year. If I have kids, they would hate me for the way I consider people disposable. I would still be working at a minimum wage job without a better future, friends, or meaningful relationships. I think I would be jumping form guy to guy, eventually ending up alone. I know how I felt four years ago and the feelings would only have grown stronger as time passed on, continuously wondering «what if» and I would never be satisfied.
I can see myself slowly becoming an alcoholic. It would start out as one harmless drink and escalade until it grows to full blown alcoholism. My kids would slowly watch their mother drink more and more until alcohol ruled both her life and their lives. Drinking would have been an escape from the life I had jumped into. It would be similar to what my brother has done with his life. It can start out as a cheap form of entertainment and grow into a beast that sucks up the rent money. Eventually I would not be able to function without a drink and end up living with my parents. I would loose my job, and have several car accidents which could possibly result in death. My life would continue to spiral downwards until I got to the point where I saw the error of my ways, if I ever did. Once in an alcoholic lifestyle, it is very hard to get out of it.
I eventually would figure out that this is not where I wanted to be in life. However, I do not see myself going to college for fear not being able to achieve a degree. I would have low self esteem. I would not even try to further my education. I would remain stuck at meaningless jobs, making minimum wage. I would not have the confidence to start something new and possible turn my life around. My children would not look up to me.
My choices in life, since high school, have been my choices. Some have been good, some have been bad. There are some that I am not proud of. Even with the bad decisions made, I wouldn’t want things to be any different. I have a husband to be proud of, one who I am completely loyal to, a beautiful daughter and a new start in school with a profession I want to be. «What ifs» are just those, a tool of self-reflection.