I Was Here When You Were In High School

Photo: Skyler Reid & Roman Zhuk
Anna Hiatt/Staff
Skyler Reid & Roman Zhuk

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I'd say it was the beginning of my fourth year at Berkeley when I realized I needed to get the hell out of here. A year later it was no longer just a realization: it was a visceral desire. Now I find myself, seven months after that, and there aren't even words for it.

It's not that college life isn't a worthwhile venture. I'll never forget the stupid shit that I've somehow ticked off my bucket list (that which I'm fortunate enough to remember in the first place). College is the background that allowed me to throw any semblance of self-preservation or respect out the window and run with the bulls (figuratively). But it wasn't just being in college which led me to actually experience life. More often than not, college was a detriment to actually doing something interesting. College was the tether which kept me from escaping the hum-drum and day-to-day for something ... unexpected.

Everyone defines their own level of involvement in college. I am quite proud to state that I've been a horrible excuse for a student. Equally so, I've known more sad sacks than I care to mention who've kept nose to the grindstone and torn through every page of every assignment they were supposed to read, always had questions during office hours and actually felt guilty about skipping class.

Personally, I think that's just boring. Yet for those sorry bastards, they've also lived some kind of college experience: pushing oneself to the limit, going sleepless too many nights in a row and hopefully learning something that wasn't written in an overpriced textbook in the process.

Without college I wouldn't have spent three years balancing anarchy and communism in a house of 150 psychedelically-inclined pyromaniacs. I wouldn't have spent four hours debating whether or not mustard (as in the spicy yellow condiment) has metaphysical properties which are imperative to its identity (I maintain that it does).

I certainly wouldn't have found myself running, camera in hand, beside protesters ghost-riding-the-whip up Durant Avenue after a dance mob lit dumpsters on fire. But those aren't the direct result of college. They're the result of what I chose to do during college: the things I did instead of studying or going to class or turning in papers on time.

My tales from the past too many years are based on ignoring scholastic responsibilities and anything quintessentially collegiate.

And being a student who ignores school and reasonable decisions has done me well for five years. I'm working my way down the bucket list. After a while, though, I got sick of starting every story with, "Well, back in the day ..." I've been referred to as a fixture in most any organization which I've been a part of, simply by virtue of missing the four-year revolving door that is the college life span.

I stopped having my own experiences and started relating my stories back to the starry-eyed younglings who are still having them. The wonderful mistakes I can pull with the excuse that "I'm a college student" are starting to run low. That's how I know I've worn out my welcome.

I suppose this is all just a roundabout way of saying that spending a lot of time in college is fine. So is spending as little as possible. My issue is with the people who don't exploit every moment they have and push their level of comfort just a little bit. College is a place to find yourself, but it won't define you. Take all the time you need.

Tags: GRAD ISSUE 2010


Buy Skyler a drink (or six) at [email protected]



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