Spending so much time with some pretty nifty college students these past weeks took me back to my own experience at university. I chose to go out of state to Marquette for several reasons, it was Catholic, they’d just won the NCAA Men’s Basketball championship, it was urban-at least more urban than where I came from, they had a journalism school (my first major until I realized I’d have to write every single day-so not for me!) and no one I knew was going there. High school was a challenge so I wanted a fresh start somewhere where no one knew anything about me. Plus the application didn’t require an essay. Did I mention I wasn’t all that jazzed about writing?
So there I was at my new school with no friends around me, no one whose face I even recognized. In other words, be careful what you wish for. I was lucky to fall in with a good group of people that were pretty much like me, average students, average looks, average families, average ambitions. We weren’t the jocks, the rich kids, the cool kids, the prepsters, the brains, the theatre kids. In short, we were average. I was happy with my friends and loved them for who they were, not what they did. It didn’t hurt as much as it did in high school that I wasn’t part of the in crowd but I was still aware of the cliques.
Watching the students during the filming of my recent projects I was reminded that those cliques still existed. There were still those that were in and those looking in from the outside. I was reminded how painful it was to look from from the outside trying to figure out how to get in. Now that I’m old and grizzled being in the cool crowd is not even on my radar. But that doesn’t mean I don’t remember what it was like when being accepted was the most important thing in my life. And the most elusive. My heart goes out to those going through it now. It does get better with age, the pain diminishes and is replaced with all the wonderful accomplishments that lie ahead. I’d never give up the wisdom and perspective I’ve gained for another chance at being 18 again. Thanks but no thanks!