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What Going to College Taught Me

I was only a few days into my first year of college when I realized that my experience was going to be very different from that of everyone else I know.

On Facebook, my friends all had statuses like “so-and-so FUCKING LOVES COLLEGE” and “so-and-so is going to my first college party tonight :)” and “so-and-so is having the time of her lifeeee.” I, on the other hand, was still sitting in my room reading novels and obsessively downloading music that I found on Pandora, and, truth be told, I was–and still am–perfectly happy to call this my life.

College. We’re told this will be the best four years of our lives. We’re told we can become anyone we want to become here. If you were the shy, invisible nerd in high school, you can be a party guy here. If you were a stressed-out overachiever, you can be the cool, laid-back chick here. You can meet dozens of people a day. You can join dozens of student groups. You can get up at noon and stay out all day and party all night and arrive back at your dorm in a drunken stupor at 4:30 in the morning to find that your roommate hasn’t even come home yet. COLLEGE, BABY!

Best of all, you never really have to let people know who you really are. You’re going to be perfect. Always smiling, always social, never stressed. “Alone time”? What’s that? Who needs alone time when you can have a hundred best friends?

We’re told that college will be a complete change from everything we’ve known before. Everything is supposed to change. Where you live, what you study, how you study it, who you spend your time with, who you date, how you date them (helloooo hook-ups!), what you eat, how you stay healthy, how you exercise, what you do for fun, what books you read, what movies you watch, what music you listen to, what you wear, how you organize your stuff, what you see as your future, where you shop, blahblahblah. Everything changes. Most importantly, YOU change.

Or do you?

Maybe I’m jumping the gun a bit here (though I tend to be right about these things ), but I’m not changing. Aside from the physical changes in my lifestyle, I’m the same person I always was–and that’s a person who would rather drink tea in my room than beer at some frat, read a book alone rather than watch a movie with fifty other people, and go to an interesting class rather than a crazy party.

Indeed, the most profound way that college has affected me so far is that I’ve finally understood a fundamental truth about myself–I am shamelessly, immutably antisocial.

See, I didn’t realize this while I was in high school because there were so many excuses. I didn’t have a license. There was nothing to do where I lived. I hadn’t met any people I could enjoy myself with. School took up all my time. My parents didn’t want me out late.

But now that’s all different. You don’t need a license, and there’s tons of stuff to do. Everyone here is friendly and smart. School doesn’t take up nearly as much time. My parents have no idea how late I’m out. All those restrictions are gone.

And that’s when, putting on my shoes and coat some Saturday evening, I suddenly realize that I have absolutely no desire to leave my room. At all.

Is something wrong with me? Was I just born with a genetic defect? Has the “OMG I’m in college so I should partyyyyy” part of my brain just shriveled up and died?

Possibly. Or maybe high school killed it, because going out and having fun really wasn’t an option, so I learned how to enjoy my life almost completely alone. I don’t need friends to be happy, I don’t need parties to be happy. All I really need is a steady supply of books and a boyfriend–even if he’s five hours away. (You’d think that the fact that I only see my boyfriend several times a year now would spark my desire to find alternate sources of social interaction, but somehow it really doesn’t.)

So naturally I feel extremely out of place, and it’s not because I picked the wrong college.

It’s because I just don’t belong in college, period.

In fact, freaks like me don’t belong anywhere at all.

If nothing else, that’s what these past few weeks have taught me, and it looks like I’ll have to live with that knowledge for four more years.