Take it from someone who had their Facebook permanently deleted within the first month of college because she (I) got really drunk at a party and decided it would be cute to let her (my) gay friend leave videos on a handful of friends’ Facebook walls of him hanging from a (again, my) bunk bed naked, screeching like a monkey. See how it’s still hard for me to take accountability for all that? That’s because there’s a lot of things about college that you never know you should prepare for. Honestly, all of that time spent doing SAT prep, wearing blazers on college campus tours, and crafting “how my privilege taught me something about the world” essays would be much more purposefully spent watching videos about what you look like drunk, and reviewing case studies of douchebaggery.
You need to learn how to not be “that person,” — and how to handle yourself when you encounter “that person” — but those are hard things to do when you are turned loose at 18 with all of the freedoms of an adult but absolutely none of the wisdom. Again, when you are 18, you are not a grown up yet., Here is a list of 10 things that you might want to prepare for as you enter college, provided by a person who is humbled daily by that fact that she is (I am) as alive and not incarcerated as I appear to be.
1. Roommates Suck.
Roommates have, do, and always will suck. They suck for your friends. They sucked for your Aunt Jane. They suck when you’re out of college and pretending that living with friends is productive. You will have a few friends that will brag that they have the most baller living situation, with the bestest buddies, who all have the moral compasses and basketball skills of Air Bud. Those people are either on Xanax or lying to you. Your roommates will use all your shampoo, eat all of your food, steal from you, break your shit, and keep you up when you have important things to take care of. They will use the last of the toilet paper and not do their dishes. They will smoke all of your drugs and drink all of your booze. They will make you listen to their bad sex and music. Everyone is a terrible roommate at some point. And your roommate probably thinks you’re terrible, too. Your job is to accept this, be the best roommate you can be, and get rid of bad roommates as gracefully as possible. I pulled a Real Housewives of New Jersey once, and flipped a coffee table because I didn’t understand this rule, so, seriously, get a grip on your living situation.
2. Drinking Is Fun.
It’s very fun, actually. And between the ineptitude of the world around you and the accessibility of fake IDs, you’re going to be able to do it in bars now, which will be even more fun. You’re going to feel like Rose flying over the rails of that ship with Leo’s groin all up on her backside. And that is okay. A long road of embarrassing hangovers will teach you how to not be an asshole. Even so, you should be aware that you can be arrested for underage drinking, and for being drunk in public. You can also get arrested for peeing in public. Thinking about it, you can get arrested for pretty much anything. Also, there are really bad people out there who want to have sex with your ear, and when you drink to excess, you make yourself more vulnerable to those kinds of Gormogon creeps (Bones reference, y’all!). Lastly, as on top of the world as drunk you feels, you’re probably really annoying. All drunk people are. You’re also really likely to text your mom’s friend by accident, when you meant to text your ex-dry-humping buddy to say that you think you’re gaining the freshman 15.
3. Drugs Are Fun.
Drugs are weird and wonderful. They also can kill you, so don’t be an idiot. Treat your drug misadventures like a research paper. Learn about drugs’ chemical properties, and why they do what they do (at the very least it, this will lead to impressive party conversations that get you laid). Learn what to do if something goes wrong. Don’t buy drugs from strangers. Don’t run down the street in your underwear screaming, “I’m on drugs!” Don’t jump off of roofs into swimming pools while you’re on drugs. In fact, don’t get on roofs at all while you’re on drugs. Although I’m determined to say the word “drugs” as many times as possible in this paragraph, I’m not going to tell you not to do drugs. You’re going to do drugs anyways, because drugs are fun. As impossible as it may seem, try to be smart while you’re doing drugs. If you notice that your life is falling apart, you’re probably doing too many drugs.
4. Sex Isn’t As Fun As Drinking (For Ladies).
You’re a big girl now. You can sleep with whomever you want, and you don’t have to sneak them up the trellis. You can have a bi-curious moment, and not have to explain to your mom that scissoring isn’t as fun as it sounds. You can sleep with a million dudes, and not have to deal with your high school slut-shaming you. I think you should be able to sleep with whomever (and however many people) you want, but you need to get your head on straight first. It’s kind of like the drinking thing. You can do a taboo thing freely now, and that freedom is going to be more intoxicating than all the SoCo Lime you’re drinking. Sex is personal. Sex is intimate. As liberating as it may feel to take the 27-year-old bartender back to your dorm with you, he’s not going to date you, he’s not going to call you, and might not even be there when you wake up. Unless you’re prepared for that, you might want to take it easy with the whole sleeping around thing. As much as your sexual exploits will teach you about yourself and others, you’re paying a huge emotional price for that wisdom. You’ll have plenty of years in your 20s to deal with your self-loathing and emotions through various forms of intercourse. Just you wait.
5. Sex Is More Fun Than Drinking (For Fellas).
Alright fellas, let’s talk sex. You love it. You can’t get enough of it. You want to do it with someone of every race. (I met a guy with an “ethnicity list” once, true story.) You want to do it with someone from every major. Whatever. Talk about the big ol’ male sex drive is older than the wheel, so I’m not going to boner-shame you. Let’s get one thing clear, though. Somehow, in 2013, people are still debating whether no means no. For the record: no does, in fact, mean no.
Let’s assume that, if you’re reading my liberal, feminist dribble, you’re not that kind of guy, and we can move on to other things. So: be kind. When you sleep with a girl and never call her again, especially when she is between the ages of 18 and 20, you’re seriously f*cking with her self-esteem. Is that something you want to do? Women are people, and as much as I don’t think you should have to be responsible for the consensual decisions of your partners, you should remember the golden rule: DBAA (don’t be an asshole). You probably will anyways, so try this, too: just treat every girl like your mother. HA HA, BET YOU NEVER HAVE SEX AGAIN.
6. You Need To Leave High School At Home.
You probably think that Tina, Linda, Bethany, and Brittney are going to be your best friends forever. Hate to break it to you, but they won’t be. If all goes well, you’ll keep touch and get drunk together over Christmas break. The point is, you’re all going to change a lot, and that’s nothing to hold against each other, or to try to fight. You’re all off having your own experiences now, and you’re supposed to. The more you remain preoccupied with keeping your high school ties, and caring who your high school sweetheart is filling up at University of Miami, the less you will be able to take in your new surroundings. The good things from home and high school will stay intact naturally. Change is hard, but you’ll get used to it.
7. There Are Lots of Types of People.
The world is bigger than your cul-de-sac, and as much as you think you might know that, you haven’t truly experienced anything yet. How much you go on to experience different types of people will vary, depending on what kind of college you go to. In some cases, your quad might be the only thing there to enlighten you, but I’d like to think that you will learn something about humanity, regardless. Whether it’s the people in your Econ 101 class, or at the Qdoba (I dated a guy in college who actually affectionately called it “Dobatronic,” and I’ve waited a long time for an opportunity to put that in print), you will quickly realize that most people out there have lived immensely different lives, and will react very differently to situations than you do. People will cry in class. People will vomit in front of you. People will yell at you for no reason. People will yell at you for very big reasons. Do what you can to be kind to others, help people if they seem like they need help, and try not to escalate situations.
8. You Will Want And Need To Ask For Help.
Asking for help is maybe one of the simplest and most humbling things we do as human beings, and it’s a lot harder than it sounds. We’re conditioned to think that when we ask for help, we’re admitting defeat. That’s not true at all. If anything, people will respect you for being able to admit when you need some assistance. Whether you’re feeling a little off, or anxious, or having trouble with your workload, or even having trouble adjusting socially, there are whole networks of people in place at your college that are there help you. If that’s too intimidating or hokey (not everyone wants to gush their feelings out to a life coach named Jan or Dianne or something), you should know that I’ve never encountered a professor who wasn’t willing to help a student navigate a difficult personal or academic situation. So put on your comfy pants, and ask for help.
9. Life Is Hard.
Yes, it’s beautiful, mysterious, and fun, but life is also a huge downer most of the time. It’s also only going to get harder from this point forward. From your first day of college on, you are only going to be forced to be more independent and responsible, and have to worry about money constantly (as in: every second of every day). Get on board with that now. Go to class. Get a part time job. Get an internship. Start learning how to have routines, and not complain all of the time. As much as partying for four years may sound enticing (I know, because I did), getting your ducks in a row will open a lot of opportunities to you. Trust me, in four years, graduation will roll around, you’ll get showered with money and proud gazes from your parents. Two weeks later, you’ll be wondering what the point of all of it was. Just go ahead and watch The Graduate, Reality Bites, and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, and take a good look in the mirror. This is the youngest you’ll ever be.
10. Taking Your Shoes Off In Public Is Not Cool.
Seriously. I don’t know why it’s a thing. Just don’t do it.