They keep showing up in the mail and email. I’m invited, the messages say, to my five-year college reunion. C’mon down! Oughta be fun.
I’ve deleted or pitched all of them. Haven’t really read them. Not interested.
And I hate to say it, but if I had it to do over, I would have gone somewhere else. And it’s not because it hurt my career, because it didn’t. In fact, I got a great job out of college. On a professional level, even with one layoff, I haven’t done horribly.
It was because on a personal level, college sucked. I was far from the generally happy man that I am now. And it’s been five years out, but I realize now that I’m still recovering from the whole mess.
There was that traumatic freshman year. The inability to keep friends. The inability to connect with dormmates. The three bad roommates. The parade of unrequited crushes. The close friend whose continual attention-seeking and issues wore me out to the point that when our friendship ended (and she blamed me, of course), it was a relief. And the paradoxical feeling that this all was my fault, but there was nothing I could do about it.
Now, I have a close, dear friend left from college and a few others I see every so often. And I’m grateful to have them. But the lingering effects of college still show up every once in a while. Every once in a while, I face that self-doubt: Do people actually like me? You’re weird, you know. You’re just annoying. That’s all. Then I have to call someone to remind me that I’m a good guy, a good friend, a good listener, a day-brightener, someone they like to be around.
College shouldn’t have done that to me. Maybe it was my fault, maybe not. But it’s only been through my work after college and the friends I’ve made at my workplaces, not to mention the core corps of friends I’ve long had, that I’ve been able to reach a greater sense of self-acceptance.
Sorry, college. I see on Facebook how folks who went there get married, and they’re surrounded by a ton of college friends reliving the good ol’ days. I didn’t have good ol’ days, and I won’t have a wedding where I’m surrounded by college friends. And it’s OK. But that means, I fear, that you’re in the past. I may never step on campus again. And I think for both of us, it’s better that way.