Admittedly, this title is a little misleading. In no way is this post entirely about being hungover (which I am not … although it sounds like my neighbors upstairs weren’t so lucky).
Instead, I was having a discussion with fiance yesterday (yep, he’s fiance now! :D) about what we miss about college. At first, I was thinking, “oh, I miss just about everything. Only having class a couple hours a day, living with my best friends, partying whenever I wanted, entire classes about case studies (nerd, I know) …” and on and on and on.
Then, I got to thinking. This lifestyle wasn’t terribly fulfilling or rewarding. Seriously, there’s a sort of short-term joy that comes from getting a great grade on a paper you started 8 hours prior to the due date, and drinking with friends spurred some of my greatest memories from college. Hell, I met my fiance there and we managed to get through three years of dating at one of the bigger party schools on the west coast. (We did it in style, in case you’re wondering.)
The answer I came up with? NO.
While it may not always seem like it when I have to get up in the dark at 6 am and commute on buses for nearly 2 hours of my day, or when I am pretty much the sole housekeeper of our apartment, but the lifestyle I lead today is so much more rewarding — personally — than that which I lived in college. Let’s run down the list:
- Classes a few hours a day: The reality is, I spent a lot of time doing homework. My classes were mostly comms, English and sociology, three of the most reading- and writing- intensive majors at our school. In no way am I trying to say I kept up with all the textbook reading (I think we all know how that is), but I certainly devoted more than 15 hours a week to school. Today? I work between 40-50 hours a week doing something I’m (surprisingly) passionate about, for a company and a team that is very good about respecting work/life balance. I get a shocking amount of time off, and my manager has not only not balked when I ask to take it, but strongly suggested I take more over the holiday break. Win.
- Living with my best friends. It sounds cliche, but I already live with my best friend. I sincerely hope I never take this for granted, and after all the long distance we’ve done, I don’t think I will. Additionally, I now live within an hour of almost every single one of my best friends. I wish I saw them more, but it’s fascinating to me that when we hang out, it’s pretty clear how we’re all growing up together. Some (most) of these people have either known me for 20+ years, or have seen me in that great limit-expanding college stage, and it blows me away that we’ve gone from just getting absolutely shitty together, to talking about square footage, mortgages, marriage, kids, and more. It sounds dull, but there’s something very special about having these discussions with someone who has grown up with you.
- Partying whenever I want: Truth be told, I could still party whenever I want. I make enough money to spend money on the sorts of snobby booze that I adore (craft beer and canadian whiskey, oh my), and there’s certainly no shortage of beer festivals and breweries to visit. (My parents actually bought us memberships to the Washington Brewers League for Christmas.) That said, I’ve come to realize that I feel better when I take care of my body. Going out big is fun every once in a while, but with age comes wisdom, and the wisdom I’ve gleaned says I HATE BEING HUNGOVER MORE THAN ALMOST ANYTHING ELSE ON EARTH.
- Entire classes about case studies: Please get past the point that this is unreasonably nerdy. I read case studies in my spare time, for everything from corporate responsibility to lawsuits to crisis communications. Most are PR-related, some are not. This started in college. It was awesome. That said, part of my responsibility for my job is to OWN the entire evidence function of our team. That means I GET PAID TO READ CASE STUDIES and figure out how to best leverage them. Compete, mission-critical, business intelligence … you name it. I think I shocked my boss with how excited I was to get this opportunity.
College was awesome at the time, but stepping back to look at my life now vs. my life then makes it pretty clear. Live is awesome now, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. That said, the one thing I absolutely do not miss about college? Perpetually being hungover. (See point 3 above, and the title of this post.)