Freshman Year: Want a College Social Life? Stop Being So Judgmental!

By Allison Sylte

college social lifeThe day I moved into my residence hall, literally the first thing my roommate said to me was, “Dude… I haven’t smoked in like three days and it’s a serious buzz kill. Do you know where I can score some weed down here?” I had absolutely no clue. I told her to go ask our RA. I still have no idea why I said that.

The thing is, I was a total nerd in high school. The most rebellious thing I did was call myself out of health class so I could do homework for AP Stats. My friends and I spent our Friday nights doing wholesome activities, like playing Apples to Apples or studying while drinking a nice cup of hot chocolate.

I had absolutely no clue people still smoked marijuana. I thought that went out of style in, like, the ’70s or something. I told myself that I would “get cool,” when I came to college…you know, like Olivia Newton-John at the end of Grease. But when I moved into my residence hall, I realized that it just wasn’t going to happen.

You don’t need to pretend that you’re a different person now that you’ve started college.

For one thing, I had a propensity for actually attending class, which meant that at midnight, rather than “pre-gaming,” I went to bed. I was too socially awkward to attend parties. One of the first times I attempted to get drunk was on Halloween during my freshman year. After drinking too much Orange Burnett’s and fruit punch during a “Saturday Night Live” drinking game (what can I say, I was an amateur), I ended up letting the RA into our room and getting everyone written up – all while wearing a 1980s spandex workout costume, circa Olivia Newton-John when she got physical.

Not my finest moment.

What confounded me more than anything was how it seemed like every other freshman had joined some sort of pack, walking up and down the sidewalks between the dorms with a new kind of swagger, smoking cigarettes and talking about how college was so much better than high school.

Well yeah, because they were the cool kids. For the nerds like me, though, I thought nothing really changed.

Clinging to the past will only put up walls.

I filled my time studying, going to the gym and Facebook-ing my high school friends about how nearly all of the people at Colorado State were alcoholics and juvenile delinquents. For a while, I desperately wanted to transfer to the University of Colorado-Boulder (our bitter in-state rival).

While I’m glad that I didn’t get whipped into that frenzy of partying and debauchery, I do realize that during my first year of college, I didn’t really experience everything college has to offer.

Being quick to judge prevents you from getting to really know people.

College is the time to grow up before you enter the real world, where not everyone fits into black and white categories like “band geek” or “stoner.”

I’m not the best person to give advice, but what I learned that year is simple: don’t judge. Sure, my roommate began our relationship by asking me for weed, but it turns out she wasn’t a bad person.

I had to take myself out of the box I put myself in, where I only respected people who I thought were just like me. After I started making an effort to get to know people from different walks of life, I actually met some pretty cool people.

This summer, a lot of my old high school buddies have told me that I’ve become a radically different person since my glory days as a high school band geek. While they think it’s a bad thing, I definitely do not. At some point, you’ve got to grow up and become a member of society, not a member of some sort of niche or subcategory.

Because for me anyway, that’s when college became the best experience of my life — even better than the Celine Dion concert I went to my senior year.

Allison Sylte is a junior journalism major at Colorado State University. Sylte, an avid skier, runner and hiker, has also worked as an editorial intern at Skiing Business magazine. She can be followed on Twitter at @AllisonSylte.

Photo:  Lafayette College


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