The first day of college was scarier than Kingda Ka at Six Flags. Kingda Ka is maybe 5-10 seconds of my life flashing before my eyes but university…university is 4 years of that. If you’ve never attended university, it’s pretty much what you’d expect. Ever watched Neighbors? Those 2 hours probably sums up what my Greek life was like when I joined a fraternity. But we’ll talk about that later. This “Greek life” is only an optional element of college life, but it’s something I’ll never forget, and I’m not talking about the drinking and partying. Well, maybe. Of course, our education was the most important, that’s why we attended school, right? But we couldn’t always be hermits. Sometimes we needed sunlight and fresh air that often smelled like weed. Before college, some of us vowed to never smoke the Devil’s lettuce, but college does stuff to us that we’d never expect. And that’s what I’m talking about! I thought that my goodie two-shoes self would never place my lips on the end of a beer funnel or be sitting tightly between two guys in a small car with windows you can’t see through in the middle of the university parking lot because there’s too much cloud inside.
That’s what was so scary at first about college. I was being introduced to so many new things that everything seemed revolutionary. I wasn’t just living under a rock, I’d been stuck under Thor’s hammer, which was only removed when I decided to attend a state university. But keep in mind, readers. This isn’t a post about whether university is better than college or my entire college experience because if it were, I’d be writing a book. And a sizable portion of the book would be an entire section on slangs I’ve never heard of. This series is about life after college, and you, for the most part, would understand the difficulty of transitioning from that life to what we’d call the “adult” life. But if you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me introduce you to my struggles as specifically an Asian-American, 2nd generation, frat-boy starting with my first semester of college.
My first week of college, you can say I was scared of meeting people. I sorta had mild social anxiety but I was a pretty sociable person. It was just rather difficult to express such quality of mine in an entirely new environment. I wasn’t comfortable with meeting multiple people left and right. High-school was big enough for me, you can only imagine what a university was like. High-school was like a turtleshell. I was only exposed slightly to the mysteries of the world. Having a 10 o’clock curfew and a mother who kept me from all the bad in the world really stunted my personal growth, but her concerns were understandable. Only, I were to be exposed to them later on regardless of what she said because the more I knew, the better. And I wanted to know. I never knew the taste of “God’s Gift” until I puffed my first joint. I thought Jack Daniels was a BBQ sauce, and what the hell is “shotgunning”? But exposure to these things didn’t make my life spiral downwards. I’ve always believed it’s what we do and where we apply our knowledge that’s important. My mother never understood, that’s why I chose the University at Buffalo as my future alma mater. You may call it an act of rebellion but it wasn’t to rebel against my parents, it was a choice to discover and live my years as a college kid to its fullest.
I was scared of the courses I had to take. I was scared of my student HUB. I was scared of the advisors. High-school was a breeze, I gotta tell ya. Not to boast about my ability to be a B+ student just by breathing, my statement is more of a swing at the mediocre standards of public high-schools in Queens. I wasn’t used to the pressure of my insignificance in a lecture of more than a hundred students. I was keen of the bare minimum effort I’d had to place to maintain an 87 average in high-school, but college was like jumping out of an airplane to skydive but then getting hit by another airplane. I was barely getting by, trying like hell to adjust to my courses than DIDN’T require me to attend class. Like can you believe that? What better way is there than to spend your day Netflixing and binge-watching How I Met Your Mother instead of paying attention to what I thought was useless information from Macroeconomics 101.
I was scared of what alcohol would do to me. I was scared of talking and dancing to girls because it all fell into foreign territory, areas I’ve always been unfamiliar with. But I was glad I did. I’m thankful for the first night that I carried my best bud, Richard, home from his first night out in his life. “FRESHMAN SHOOOOOOOOOT” lingered in my mind throughout the entire night. I remember so vividly that his brother, who had been a junior at that time, was well-acquainted with what happens during the first week of school, and that was just the start. We were in the basement of one of the university club’s president’s house. Imagine saying that 5 times. It wasn’t your typical basement, that’s for sure. His bed was next to his computer which was right next to the bar. It really only takes 3 footsteps to get drunk and it’s not an exaggeration. All the faces were alien, but we were introduced properly with our first shot of whatever the hell that was, so we thought. Richard was drunk. He threw up outside the dorm’s bus tunnel and laid on the grass for a while. The night was cold, but it was warm with excitement. A girl standing on a circular grass patch with a hill. She squatted and started to piss. We just stood there watching.
Surely I’ve failed Macro 101 and almost dropped out of school because I simply didn’t care. I was required to take a pre-calculus course as a pre-requisite for my business major. The assessment test they gave us during the first week was so easy that the professor asked me to take a harder course. I stopped attending that course and got an R. That’s when it all started. I found something else to be scared of. I was frightened of failure. I’ve never seen it before, but my future looked close to its end. But that was the problem, wasn’t it? What future did I have in mind for myself? I couldn’t picture it, none besides one of my four roommates were entirely sure of where we were headed. People told us that “it’s okay. You can choose your major your second year”. But I had already known, if I keep up this below C average I’m sure to get expelled. I was scared of being a failure among friends and a disgrace to my parents. It all connected for me at the time, I used my failure as the result of improper parenting. But that’s bullshit. It was my fault, but I just couldn’t see it clearly. I was scared of being the idiot of my class, nerve-strucken by the idea of being unemployed and being seen as a failure to the one person in my entire bloodline who made it to the U.S. and attended NYU, my father.
I became depressed.