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Taking a look back

Posted: January 18, 2011 4:24 p.m.
Updated: January 19, 2011 5:00 a.m.

I became somewhat nostalgic two weekends back. No, I wasn’t flipping through photos of past loves or my travels in Europe. Or hitting up the Five Points bars stockpiled with sorority gals.

 Instead, I was unpacking in my new apartment and came upon the box holding the few items from college I deemed worthy of stashing. “Opinion writing” read one folder. So I opened ‘er up to find column after column marked “A” and “Superb” (heavy, heavy sarcasm).

Honestly, now. I began reading through columns I submitted to my professor for that spring 2008 class, and there was one in particular which was, and is, telling for me. Not because it’s prolific writing, but because it gives me a window into the person I was roughly three years ago. And how little I’ve changed.

So, here is a column from yours truly circa March 27, 2008, a month before entering the “real world.”

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 “I can’t decide if I’m in denial, putting on a front, or being authentic, but I seem to be the lone man on campus not terrified about graduating in a month. Friends are desperately searching all outlets for a job, and I overhear classmates sharing their terror with anyone who will listen.

What is so terrifying? No more 15-page papers? No more sleepless nights during exam season? I, for one, am not frightened by the prospect of never having to write another personal column (for this class, mind you).

The way I see it, every person in this room has something to look forward to. If you’re off to some form of grad school, congratulations on delaying the responsibilities of a real job for a few more years. If you have a job lined up, my applauds, most people eye you with envy. And for those who haven’t the slightest idea where you’ll be May 12, you are in the grandest position of all. Early 20s, no obligations, no attachments; free in every sense of the word. Freedom is not meant to be terrifying. I can think of few people freer than a 22-year-old with no obligations; embrace it while you can, it won’t last long.

Indisputably, the day will come when it is time for responsibility and settling. I’m not preaching a lifetime of revolt from conformity, merely a couple years. Take your life out of its comfortable niche. As graduating seniors, we have been fulfilling obligations set before us our entire lives. What choices have we truly made? Some may say we chose to come to Charleston, and that’s true to an extent, but did we truly make the choice on whether or not to attend college? Personally, I did not and I’m assuming most of us were at least steered in this direction. I’m not discrediting this institution by any means, just giving an example of how few choices we have made for ourselves.

But now is the chance to truly make a choice by yourself, for yourself. And I deeply hope the choice you make is for no one but yourself. Above all, make the choice with the greatest potential for your own happiness. Not the one with money lingering in the forefront, not the choice of a significant other, and certainly not the choice of a demanding parent. In many instances, it will be the choice that comes most natural.

There is nothing to fear about graduation. I am not trying to be prophetic but rather looking at things realistically. If you graduate from Charleston, you are, at the very least, moderately intelligent. And to persist through some of the obscure requirements of this school means you have a degree of drive. And most importantly, if you have been in Charleston for four years, you know how to enjoy yourself.

So do your best to relax and enjoy this last month. As soon as anxiety creeps into your mind, put your life in perspective. We are young and educated in a world where freedom is inescapable.”

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I don’t know whether to be proud I’ve remained true to self, or embarrassed I haven’t matured.

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