The fantasy of re-doing college with what we know now — Day 29

Sweaty Sam and Shawn in 2010

This morning, Shawn, Aasim, and I headed to Ihop to heal the crustiness that came from staying up late playing improv games and drinking homemade mojitos with some coffee and greasy food (one great decision always begets another one.) Once the plates full of infant-sized omelettes and mountains of hash browns arrived, we finally had the strength to begin conversing. Naturally, as all friends do, we began to reminisce on the good old times, from when we lived together back in Jersey (“Do you remember that time you came home wasted and stripped naked in front of all of us because you said you were hot?”) all the way back to when Shawn and I were in high school (“Remember when that girl stole your final project to make it look like you didn’t turn it in because she didn’t do hers?”)

The conversation soon turned to our college years and inevitably, what parts of it we wished we could do better. When you aren’t happy with where you currently are, it’s easy to dissect the perceived mistakes of the past and fantasize on better outcomes based on different decisions. That can become a black hole real fast. But when you’re doing it with your friends over cups of coffee flavored with liberal swirls of butter pecan pancake syrup, it’s just fun. But it did make me think on how uninformed, silly, or wasteful so much of what I did in my early twenties was.

We all agreed that if we could go back in time and re-do college, we wouldn’t have let our boyfriends interfere in our opinions of ourselves or our goals. Aasim dated a guy that made him feel bad about studying and working at the same time, when all he was trying to do was support himself through his education. Shawn got wrapped up in a long distance relationship with a dude that loved to cause drama and in turn, distractions, even from 500 miles away. When I went through a breakup with my longterm boyfriend in junior year, I stopped taking care of myself, my grades tanked, and I had to go to therapy just so that I could leave the house again. Lame lame lame. No guy is every worth that trouble, we all concurred.

Then came the issue of majors. Aasim is the only one of us that is working in a field close to what he studied. But Shawn and I lamented over how hellbent we were on our education choices, only to wind up in such unrelated fields years later. I often joke that my degree is in “Unemployment” or “Babysitting” — it’s in psychology with a minor in philosophy. At the time, I had plans to become a therapist or social worker, so that was the most logical degree to obtain. By the time I was 23, I had 5 years of working at social services non-profits under my belt and was beginning to think that maybe that wasn’t the right path for me. If I had known how little my choice of degree would impact my eventual professional choice, then I would have studied something that made me happy instead of a subject I thought would support my projected career path. I would have studied music, art history, or writing instead.

But most of all, we all wished that we didn’t think the decisions we made back then would determine the success or failure for the rest of our lives. I remember sitting in Shawn’s apartment in Virginia, watching him freak out over not being able to land a government job in the weeks after completing his degree in international relations. When heavy drinking and working 50+ hours a week in a group home caused me to fail Buddhist philosophy, which then made me ineligible to graduate my senior year, I felt doomed to menial employment for the rest of my life because I couldn’t afford to make up the class and get my degree.

At the end of our meal, Shawn said he wished he could go back and tell himself that everything would work out ok. Because it did. A couple years later, I had the money to make up that missed class, passed it with an A, and got my degree. Shawn now makes great money doing telecommunications sales, he’s happily married to Aasim, and they live in a beautiful apartment in Texas. For all the tumult in my life right now, I’d be an ass to ignore the extreme blessing I have to live in New York City and chase my entrepreneurial dreams.

It makes me wonder what decisions I’m bugging out about now that I should take in stride. There is a future Samantha living out there, wishing she could tell me to chill. I’m going to do my best to hear that voice and heed her word.

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This is Day 29 of 7/17in750! I’m challenging myself to complete and publish a daily journal entry from my writing at 750words.com for the entire month of July. Read the introduction to the project here.

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