"Trust Me, I Got This" is a weekly column by staff writer and senior Christopher McDermott on surviving senior year, guided solely by seemingly unconventional advice.
It’s weird to look back and see you’ve gone from a dysfunctional family’s kid brother to its bitter grandpa, and at the same time there’s a new family you’re trying to convince to adopt you.
This is how I’m processing my last year of college.
I spent the summer working on campus, so the first experiences that told me my senior year was really starting were Convocation and the Weekend of Welcome: events primarily for getting freshmen psyched up about the next four years.
That’s not to say that’s a bad thing; it’s good to get psyched up and it’s good to tell students who are new to college to do everything they can to make the college experience as significant as possible. But by senior year, the best possible advice you can receive has changed drastically, along with the way you process advice.
And that’s from both the experiences you’ve been hit with and the sheer mass of advice you were given along the way.
The best advice I got as a new student was that freshman year is a success as long as you make it to sophomore year. And everything else is secondary, so I felt I could try new things even if I was sure they’d come with plenty of failures.
The best advice I got sophomore year was to make it to junior year, and because I started to realize the crazy hurricane I’d made my freshmen year would probably not be sustainable for three more years, I toned it down a notch.
Naturally, the best advice I got my junior year was to make it to my senior year, and because I realized by this point that my sophomore year was kind of boring to the point it wouldn’t wholly keep my attention for two more years, I decided to strive to hurricane around things in a balanced way. Category 3 or so.
All this pretty good advice was simple and direct and basically plagiarized from the previous year. Most of the more complicated advice I’ve been given has fallen apart from repeated usage in slightly different situations.
My high school guidance counselor had posters outside of her office all saying, “College is the best four years of your life.” It was a good mindset for the end of high school and the early days of college, but now that college is coming to a close, it’s probably no longer a healthy way to think.
After you’ve lived for any significant length of time, you have to start looking back and putting some kind of theme to what you’ve experienced if you want to make sense of it at all. But all these experiences are different and the lengths of time are different and all people experiencing them are different, so they arrive at different conclusions.
But kids are taught that adults have some definitive knowledge about living and so they generally know what they’re talking about. So while adults are still trying to figure out their own lives, kids are listening and trying to apply that advice to their lives. And then the kids strive for the day they’ll be an adult.
So if I can pretend to be an adult for a moment: the best attempt I can give at advice up to this point is that there really aren’t any adults as kids understand them.
There’s no definitive manual to everything that you’re given at 16, 18, or 21, and I’m increasingly confident that it won’t be coming at 32, 44 or 89. And frankly, even if there was an operator’s manual on putting your life to use, how many people read manuals anyway?
No one’s got any definitive, universal wisdom to share, but advice-making can be a fun exercise for attempting to put sense to what you’ve experienced before.
So anyway, in the spirit of hypocrisy, this is my alternative advice column. Here are my best attempts at advice:
No answer fits more occasions than “I don’t know.”
Smile a lot: generally it makes people feel more comfortable. Unless your smile is creepy, in which case do your best to tone it down.
Knowledge is power. With great power comes great responsibility, but also: power corrupts. So it’s only natural that all the learning you do in college comes with a lot of questionable life decisions.
Chris McDermott is the news editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.