I hate to bring it up, but the reality right now is that a lot of us are graduating and a lot of our moms are gonna stop paying our rent and a lot of our aunts just bought us a book called “Adulting.”
We’re obviously going to survive—there’s no need to freak out about that sort of thing. (Have you any idea how much a Fordham education is worth? Worry not, homegirls. It all works out.)
But as the G word approaches, it’s hard not to think about what we’ve learned about ourselves in college. It’s this time (or maybe space) in which our world is set up to facilitate us figuring our shit out. I knew my “growing up” was supposed to be happening, but I didn’t feel or notice it at all and my lack of progress was really terrifying me. Until I met Randy.
Simply put, Randy is a freshman.
A couple of buddies and I encountered Randy by chance (or God, which aren’t not the same thing) at around 3 AM on the Sunday after Homecoming, a.k.a. the very beginning of this school year. My guys and I were hanging out together on Eddie’s and Randy was sitting by himself in the Keating cove. I called up to him and offered a beer from the six pack we had just picked up from RDP. He was like, “Me?” and I was like, “No, the other kid alone on Keating steps.”
Being the friendly guy that he is, Randy accepted and the “what’s your name, what are you doing out here?” small talk quickly turned to the “are you doing okay, what’s really going on?” real talk.
He told us he was missing his high school friends (we all know the feeling) and that he felt like he hadn’t yet found his people at Fordham (we’ve all totally been there). My fellow seniors and I completely empathized with Randy, having been freshmen once upon a time, and knowing how sometimes the events of a single night can feel much more dramatic than they really are.
After our talk, we all hung out on campus together until the sun came up.
The next day, Randy told me that the night before was like The Perks of Being a Wallflower for him. And before you write him off as tacky or the comparison as a horrible cliché, consider what he probably meant by this.
He meant that he felt lost, but we seemed found. He meant that he had no idea what to do with himself, but he perceived that we had a plan. He meant that he felt utterly out of place, and that we not only appeared confident in our places, but we made one for him too.
Don’t read me as a high-and-mighty-cool-gal-big-man-on-campus, because I’m a total idiot and so are most of my friends. And we really didn’t feel like we had found ourselves, nor had any sort of plan, nor knew where the fuck we belonged.
But the fact is that Randy saw us that way because we really were that way, we just didn’t know it. It had taken us the three years between our position and Randy’s to figure out who we were, how we wanted to spend our time, and where we were supposed to be, but we had actually kind of done it.
Granted, our identity was the kids who are browned-out, still drinking on Eddie’s at 4 AM and our plan was to stay up until M&G’s opened. But that’s the shit that’s fun for us and brings us joy and communion. What more should we have spent the past four years looking for?
Do you, you graduating seniors, think you’ve really changed that much since September 2013? It seems like a long time ago in writing, but you remember yourself then. You probably don’t feel any different, or smarter, or older, or less scared, but you absolutely are.
Do you remember being a freshman, not being sure of where or with whom you belong, having no idea who you want to be or what you bring to the table? Because before that night I met Randy, I had forgotten that subtle yet constantly nagging lostness.
Realize, right now, all of the sudden, that you now know those things. It happened too slowly to even notice, this figuring out of your shit, and certainly not without adversity or pain. It probably took a few years and a few friend groups and heartbreaks and really drunk nights, but we figured it out.
Since Homecoming, Randy has been welcomed as an honorary but very real member of our crew. I’m pretty sure that he enjoys our company and I like to think that we show him the ropes—he’s in the group chat and is invited to pregames and we let him know which parties suck and where the good ones are at.
We love him to death, but despite our friendship, Randy’s college journey of finding himself and his people and his place still isn’t anywhere near over—it’s not supposed to be. Just because we’ve grown up, we’re not a shortcut or the answer to his mandatory struggle; he’ll need to figure his shit out on his own after we’re washed up alumni. He and every other freshman still have three whole years through which to suffer and enjoy not knowing what the fuck he’s doing, until, like I did, he suddenly realizes that he does.
My freshman Randy has become a BFF and a human I truly cherish and love. And while I would have offered a beer to any kid sitting alone on Keating steps at 3 AM, I don’t think any old kid would have ended up meaning so much to me if he hadn’t made me see so much about myself.
I thought that I still didn’t know what I was doing, but Randy showed me that after these college years, I kinda do—or at least I’ve found where I need to be and what I care about and whom I’ve decided to love. So thanks, baby. I owe you more than you’ll ever know. And don’t stress through your next three years. You’ll figure it out too.
And also I’m sorry we broke into your dorm room at 7 AM on Friday and forced you to come to boozy brunch in the caf.