Well, that was fast. One minute your mom and brother are helping you move into your freshman dorm at Moore/Strong (which was, of course, the last door on the third floor because why not start off fresh?) and, all of a sudden, you’re penning your farewell piece the week before your graduation. Seriously, I feel like Rip Van Winkle right now.
To be honest, my college experience didn’t begin on Move-in Day, but during that summer making minimum wage as a cashier at Harris Teeter because books are expensive (thank you Slugbook.com). My brother, the new sports editor for The Carolinian, as the previous one had decided to become the editor-in-chief, needed new writers for the section. So, after a great brush of nepotism and an example article that took less than an hour to write, here I was.
My first article was an interview with the volleyball coach, who was hired that winter and was also entering his first season. This was despite the fact that my first class was a half hour after the interview was to be conducted, and the sport of volleyball was as foreign as Obama’s birth certificate to the Trump Klan (Spelled with K, not C).
So, I donned a shirt and tie and walked to the Coleman Building around 8 am. I stood outside the office of Coach Corey Carlin and waited. And waited. And waited. He never showed up. However, his two assistants did show up, wondering about his absence like myself, and we struck up a conversation. I told them this was my first article, and my first class was starting soon so I could not stay much longer. Their reaction was like I was a lost puppy, scared and confused, trying to find his momma.
So, with the room and my first story, that’s 0-2 so far. About three days into university life and my self-confidence could not be lower.
Eventually, I did finally talk to Coach Carlin. Again, dressed up in a shirt and tie (this would be the last time I would dress this nicely for games), I sat down courtside to watch my first volleyball match. Like that, the clock began. I had an hour and a half to come up with seven to nine solid questions for a DI coach who had spent much in his life in the sport.
I was just trying not to humiliate myself. The game ended, and I stood up from my seat. With recorder and notes in my hand, I walked over to the coach, gave a firm handshake and proceeded with the interview. I can’t remember how long it lasted, the questions I asked or even much about the walk home. All I remember was sitting down at my dorm and proudly texting my editor/brother that the interview was good and that I was working on the article now.
Batting .333 now.
Though I would like to believe that I kept that average, at a certain point I stopped caring. I spent so much time in my early collegiate days proving that I belonged in my classes and my places of employment. At a certain point, though, I stopped caring and became stable enough to know I belonged.
And when that happened, I finally started making friends from all over the world (I hung out with a lot of international students) and made friends whom I would eventually live with. This is also bittersweet because now it’s over. If I had a time machine, I wish I could go back to my freshman year self and just tell him to breathe and to stop eating at the cafe because you should not get the freshman 15 by Thanksgiving.
There’s not much else to say. I want to thank my parents, and I am obviously eternally grateful to them, but my older siblings have really led me across the stage more than anyone else. Thanks, Matthew for guiding me through my entire four years even once you graduated. Jessica and Aaron for being voices of experience from hundreds of miles away. All the interesting cast of characters from professors, co-workers, friends and roommates. It’s been fun, but more than anything, it’s been valuable.