Going to college stands as one of the happiest transitions of my life. I was ready to move beyond the surroundings that I had known for 18 years in Toledo, Ohio, and experience the freedom away from my helicopter mom. I embarrassed myself badly on my first day at Columbia.
Here’s what happened:
I arrived a few days prior to NSOP to participate in the Columbia Outdoor Orientation Program—about a fifth of the first-year class takes part in COÖP. So there we were, out on the lawns in front of Butler, split up into groups of about 12 for icebreakers.
Each group’s task was to perform a song in front of all the other groups in a different genre. We were to perform The Temptations’ “My Girl” as a rap song. So, being an overeager, abnormally extroverted first-year, I volunteer to be the hype-man of the performance (think Flavor Flav).
I’m good with crowds—one might say I’m an engaging public speaker—so I was confident that we would get the party rockin’ during our performance.
I would get the crowd going with some call-and-response lines:
Me: “When I say my, you say girl! My…” You get it.
But for some reason, this crowd was not in fact rockin’. I heard crickets. There was no party on that lawn. Our performance ended and I whispered to one of my groupmates, “Damn, the crowd didn’t get as into this as I thought they would…” He told me, “Dude, you know the call-and-response concept? Well, you forgot to call!”
Me: “When I say my, you say girl!” Except I forgot to call “My!”
I totally dropped that ball with a nasty brain fart. I felt my ego being wounded right there on my first day of college in front of 200 of my classmates. Fortunately, not many of my classmates who were there that day remember my embarrassing moment. In fact, my first few weeks of college are a blur. But I definitely did put myself out there, risking embarrassment, taking chances.
For me, coming to college was about taking chances and being myself. I’m glad I did, because if I hadn’t there wouldn’t be nearly as many ridiculous moments to reminisce on.
I feel blessed that as a senior, my best friends (individuals whom I consider extended family) are people whom I met in my first few weeks of college. We have gone on vacations together, spent holidays with each other’s families, and pissed each other off a few times, too. And we will continue to do all those things after college.
So I’d like to propose a toast to the Class of 2017: Cheers to you all, and here’s to the next four years of some great living.
The author is a Columbia College senior majoring in economics.
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