"...studied and grade-grubbed a little less."
In my first year of university I wish I had studied and grade-grubbed less.
I'd taken the year off between high school and college and worked as a waiter, dishwasher, security guard, house painter and so forth. The experience frightened me - low wages, long hours, everyone treating you like a subhuman serf. When I was a dishwasher, the waiters, assuming I was a cretin, spoke really slowly to me: "Dave...you...need...to...dry...the...dishes...better."
When I got to university, I was determined to study hard and get As so I could have a good career.
But something else happened that year, too. In high school I was "class clown" and had few dates. But in first-year university I reinvented myself as "the lover" - and the girls of Middlebury College, Vermont, bought it! I was a "brain on a plate" no more! I was part of nature, in tune with the chthonic rhythms of the Earth, sun and moon.
Oh, I have beautiful, sunlit memories from that year: running nude in a field with my hippie girlfriend, Kate, while cows stood staring stonily at us. But I wish I'd given in to those experiences more. My best friend Eric would often want to go for long walks in the nearby hills and fields. I'd usually say no, "I gotta study."
He died suddenly, tragically, in his early 20s. I wish I had said yes more, had spent more time with him.
I'm not saying party your face off, people. But no one - recruiters, etc. - cares how you do in first year. They understand if you sow your wild oats as long as you settle down as a sophomore.
You're only young once. "Youth is wasted on the young," George Bernard Shaw said. Don't be guilty of that. Seize the day.
David Eddie writes the Damage Control column for Globe Life.
"...made those friends that are supposed to be your friends for life."
In my first year of university I wish I had made those friends that are supposed to be your friends for life. Who are those people? I see them in movies, having full-on midlife crises together, screaming nicknames like Teabag and Peanut at each other and reminiscing about their glory days of "quads" or "keggers" or "football stadiums."
As a frosh at York University (which rumour was had been designed as a prison with tank access) I met no one, other than one smoking-hot guy I, um, studied with. Oh yes, there was a nice girl who drew me pictures of squirrels in tree knots, and there was a fashion model who told me that when she was in Paris over the holidays at a New Year's Eve party with Mick Jagger, she "never felt so alone." And there was the huge group of Italian babes who tossed me the bird every time I begged them to be quiet during our excruciatingly tedious and mandatory science class.
The buildings were variations on the theme of vomit-beige; the outdoors bleak, endless fields dotted with lone scraps of paper tacked to poles advertising yet another "Campus Rapist." On freshman week, we were given a slip for a free draft beer and burger, while the smug, superior University of Toronto students proudly hazed their own, between lounging on gargoyles and sunning themselves beneath Gothic spires.
I wish I had befriended some of those girls in front of me, because I failed science anyway. I can see us at Jack Astor's, drinking Chablis and fanning ourselves with our useless degrees while warbling about the best years of our lives: plotting, with ruthless cunning, our escape from the Rock.
Lynn Crosbie writes the Pop Rocks column for Globe Review.
"...dumped my high-school boyfriend at Thanksgiving."
In my first year university I wish I had dumped my high-school boyfriend at Thanksgiving. Instead I spent a year agonizing on the phone and spending precious beer money on train trips back to Toronto when I should have been making out with long-haired philosophy majors in the McGill campus pub.
Okay, I did that too, but I felt bad about it.