I’m scared of all the things I never did and never will. I’m scared that I didn’t spend enough time in the Arb and sad that I never learned to longboard. I wish I had hooked up with a few more girls and experimented a little bit more with drugs. I never was the president of a club, and I never made the front page of The Michigan Daily. I never played pinball at Pinball Pete’s, and I never ate hippie hash at Fleetwood Diner after the bars closed. I haven’t lived in Kerrytown or a co-op, I never took a class with Bruce Conforth, the American Culture Professor and I definitely did not have sex in the stacks.
Then, what did I do while I was in Ann Arbor? How did I spend my four years here? I think I did more than drink and eat and procrastinate. I’m fairly positive something worthwhile happened here, but at this moment in my life — two weeks to graduation — I can’t help but fixate on the nevers and the nots.
I never went to an away football game. I never told Denard or DeShawn or Manny or Darius that they kicked ass, and I never talked shit to opposing fans on game day. I never partied at the Metal Frat or SAE, and North Campus is a foreign country to me.
I have a habit of speaking in superlatives when I shouldn’t, but I can say, unequivocally, that the hardest part of graduating for me is understanding that the end is not the end. No matter how many times I reassure myself that the end of college is not the end of life — enjoyable life, at least — my mind keeps wandering back to that image in my head. The one where my 35-year-old self sits withering away lifelessly in a cubicle, imprisoned by tidal waves of progress reports and hordes of Bill Lumbergh look-alikes, wondering where it all went wrong.
I never went to UMix drunk, high or sober. I never devoured barbecue at Satchel’s. I never donated blood for Blood Battle, never relay-ed for life and never danced at Dance Marathon.
I envy my classmates who don’t feel this way, the kids who aren’t marooned in a sea of uncertainty without a paddle. The insufferable overachievers who snagged that consulting gig at IBM or the fellowship in Namibia. The ones who my parents tell me about, not knowing that each sentence tightens the vice grip of anxiety already surrounding my delicate ego.
I never painted The Rock.
But I’m tired of my self-pity. The end of school means the end of training wheels. I may not have accomplished all I wanted to here, but there is life after the University. I’ll miss living in decrepit student housing with all of my degenerate friends, but our inevitable diaspora will give me places to visit. I may not be walking out of Ann Arbor with a 4.0, but I’ve learned a lot.
I snuck into the Big House. Twice. I learned how to make righteous tacos. I became a connoisseur of whiskey, both cheap and expensive. I realized that I could be charming, and I realized that I could be an ass.
To say that these four years have been “the best years of my life” would be a tragic understatement. They were more than “the best.” They were the years full of triumphs and frustrations. Years where I was told I was a terrible kisser, and eventually worked my way up to halfway decent. The years where I learned to do my own laundry, and the years where I had a love/hate relationship with the dining halls. I’ve made friends, I’ve lost friends and I’ve concluded that that’s OK. I began chiseling away at the marble of my life four years ago, and while I’m still a work in progress, I’m much more sure of who I am and who I’m not.
I came into college with dreams of “Van Wilder” parties, and I leave with an appreciation for introspection. I thought I would run college — a silly notion in retrospect — but found out that setting expectations will usually leave you disappointed.
I drove Santa Claus to the gas station when his car broke down. I lived in Madrid for a semester. I burned bridges, I ate a lot of Jimmy John’s and I made the best friends I ever could have asked for.
Are there things I would change? Probably. But I can’t, so I’m just trying to look forward and live without regrets.
Andrew Eckhous can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.