College students preen themselves across America, fearing their eventual undoing by way of reality. This is the time when they are most alive, most star-speckled and comfortable in their skin suits. Skipping class to smoke blunts and kiss the soft spots behind each other’s ears, they are relaxed in their age range, their movie theater discounts. Its easy to be nervous and alive when there’s still time for them to figure things out. It’s easy for them to sleep in late when they consider the 9-to-5 sunrise-sunsets on their horizon.

The last guy I dated was two years older and drove away from my house on football Saturdays with nostalgic contempt. He broke up with me because the trek from Ann Arbor to outside Detroit was too costly and made it hard for us to casually wake up side by side and whisper breakfast plans. He broke up with me because he had already spent wasted mornings under cotton comforters complaining about fast-approaching paper deadlines and the cons of sweet sugar alcohol. He broke up with me because he had student loans to pay and a beautiful boxer-husky mix named Rockafeller to feed. I understood all this and even when I went through the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, crying in my friend’s Elantra and binge-watching My Strange Addiction on TLC) I did so knowing that if I really cared about him I would throw him up in the air like a wee little birdie and let him spread his wings. You’ve all seen the embroidered wall plaque: if you love somebody, set them free. Hopefully, then they will eventually forget all the times you were gassy and inexplicably sweaty after dinner dates and remember you as you wish to be remembered: snort-laughing at The Kroll Show, eyeliner perfectly intact, perpetually giving them Four Seasons-quality head scratches.

“Right now, I need to be selfish.” What a wonderful, horrible thing to say. As unromantic as it may seem, sometimes we do need to be selfish, sometimes it’s a good idea to place our needs higher than those of our lovers or friends because otherwise we risk losing opportunity and even our own sense of self. What if Jack had said to Rose: listen, right now I need to be selfish. Is it cool if I try to like swim maybe a yard or so to the right and find another large piece of wood to rest on, like the one you’ve got? This water temperature is not really doing it for me. It would have been a whole different movie! Maybe a little less successful at the box office, but who’s to say? Give Jack a chance, for fucks sake. He could have been a very successful artist.

Us college students are selfish in a million different ways every day. Think about the way Ann Arbor students cross the street. Is this a crosswalk? No? Now it is! Is that a moving vehicle? Yes? Well, if it hits me I’ll buy a kegerator with the insurance money! Life is beautiful and so am I! We save up our steadfast maturity for later down the line, hoping that the instinct to provide for ourselves and others will strike us like a lightning bolt from Zeus the moment that the prenatal cellulite kicks in or the “chord is cut,” so to speak, between Meemaw and twenty-something year old tot who cannot locate Delaware on the map (it’s on the East Coast … somewhere…).

My ex would often say before he left my house for work: I waited too long to grow up and now I’m paying the consequences. As I edge towards the precipice of graduation I think about his words a lot. They’re indicative of the classic college-educated millennial contradiction that is engrained within so many of us: the desire to uphold the child-like Disney idealism on which we were raised while we gain all the hard learned lessons that come with becoming an adult. We have watched Peanuts without facing the possibility we might one day become the parents, faceless legs who communicate in trombone tones. We’re still looking from the perspective of Charlie Brown, frightened faces staring up at menacing 1950s-era calves.

And maybe, in some sense, we will always be the kid in the yellow shirt. I wish my ex the best of luck working towards his grow-up goal, sports broadcasting (which he will undoubtedly tackle with the unwavering passion and excitement of a sugar-high Little Leaguer meeting Derek Jeter for the first time). I wish all of us the courage and self-awareness to be selfish and pay the consequences whenever they come, so that we may move towards our grown-up goals with whatever dignity our Facebook history allows. In the interim, lets enjoy our last month or so as students. Let’s willfully deny what’s about to come. Let’s have fun.

Sophia Usow can be reached at sophiaus@umich.edu.

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