Changes in Personality

Saturday, 2004-03-13; 05:30:00

How college has changed me.

I've slowly come to realize that college has changed me a lot more than I would've thought when I came to Stanford as a freshman. I've done so many things I probably wouldn't do otherwise, and I've come to some conclusions about my life that I would probably laugh at if someone had told me this is how I would turn out to be in a few years.

What inspired this train of thought was something that occurred last Friday, after the play our house put on was over. The play was fantastic, if I do say so myself; the audience helped us so much through the play because they were literally laughing through every minute of the play, and they helped to cut the nervousness during those times we forgot our lines, because they just started laughing then, too. It made it that much better because the audience didn't care that we obviously weren't incredibly prepared for giving the play, as long as we actually made a coherent play that they wanted to watch, which we did. Everybody was really happy that the play went over so well with the audience that a lot of us came back to the house to have an afterparty.

Even though I was probably the one that had prepared the most for the play (given that I had so many lines to memorize), I was really, REALLY nervous backstage and during the play. Especially during the first part of the second act, my hands were shaking some of the time. There were a few parts that were really nerve-racking: in two parts, another actor and I completely forgot our lines and so there was a moment of about 15 seconds or so of silence in which we were scrambling to figure out what to do. During a few scenes, we even jumped around a lot in the actual script, so the person backstage couldn't follow where we were in the script to prompt our lines if we needed it (and I didn't even realize there was a prompter backstage until during the third act), and it just made it so hard to figure out what to do because we couldn't just repeat some of the lines since we were messing up the script. To the audience I'm sure it looked OK, mainly because we were so dependent upon the other actor remembering his lines that if one actor messed up, the other actors would immediately respond with the correct responses to those incorrect lines, even if it meant screwing up the order of the script; so the conversation made sense even though it wasn't how it was supposed to be.

As I said, it turned out fine in the end, and everybody who I talked to said I did a great job of acting on stage. It just really made me nervous, and it caused lack of sleep even AFTER the play was over because I was stressing out over my forgotten lines.

Given that, I decided to throw my principles out the window that Friday night, and I participated in the drinking going on. We played speed quarters, which was a pretty fun drinking game I must admit, and by the end of the night I was definitely drunk. I wasn't wasted or anything, just tipsy, enough to make me act kind of strange, but not too much that I didn't have my senses about me. I guess you would basically call that a buzz from the alcohol. I even realized I was drunk when I was drunk, so I was definitely still coherent.

It's kind of a weird feeling being drunk. You think you have control over your actions, but you really don't since you're acting all weird and you realize it. At one point I actually asked myself out loud if I was drunk; lol, I usually only talk to myself when I'm really nervous or when I'm trying to write a paper. I realize now how dangerous it is to think that you're in control of your actions after you've consumed alcohol.

I never really understood drinking parties or drinking games up until that Friday night. One of my dormmates asked me if I had a positive experience from being drunk, and the only honest response I could give was, "Kinda." Having been someone who never really liked participating in the alcohol side of college, it was actually frightening getting my world turned upside-down like that. I had actually enjoyed it, and that's what was scary. Just a few weeks before, we had had an invite-only party at Casa, and I got kind of depressed at seeing all the couples in the house -- at one point I actually had the thought of just drinking alcohol to help me forget those feelings, but I quickly convinced myself that it totally wasn't worth it. Now those arguments are out the window, never to come back.

I'm still not one of those people who drink at every opportunity, and I don't want to ever end up drinking to the point of vomiting, because the whole point of drinking (at least as I see it now) is to have fun while doing it, not to get yourself sick.

But if I could have my opinion on alcohol totally turned around like last Friday, could my other opinions change, too? I know that some people in the house, and even a few of my friends from last year, sometimes do drugs or smoke. Will my opinions change on those topics, too? Right now, I really hope not, because I don't want to put my body in jeopardy just for participating in something like that. But I'm being hypocritical in saying that, because alcohol has the potential to damage my body, too.

While this is probably one of the biggest things that college has changed about me, there are lots of other examples. Last night, we had our quarterly special dinner where the staff totally decks out the dining hall so it looks fancy, and our cook prepares a special meal of lots of appetizers, wonderful entrees, and a yummy dessert. The thing is that everyone always dresses up when going to special dinner, and it would look really lame if I didn't. Not only was I worried about my image, something which wasn't a big deal a few years ago, but I actively tried to figure out as what I was going to dress up, even if it was a last-minute job. I dressed up as Kurt Cobain, complete with keeping my hair down (which I don't like), wearing jeans (which I'm not particularly fond of), painting my nails and writing on my skin (which is something I would never have been caught dead doing in high school), and I actually enjoyed myself at the party. Heh, I'm even sitting at the computer right now wearing jeans with my hair down and with my nails kept painted. What is WRONG with me?!

There are tons of other changes that I've gone through. Back in high school, I probably wouldn't have gotten excited about playing one of the lead roles in a play to be performed in public. I wouldn't have been so interested in politics. I wouldn't have liked over half of the music to which I regularly listen now. I probably wouldn't have gone skydiving like I did twice last year (and potentially am doing again in less than a week). I definitely wouldn't have wanted to do so much writing (blog, articles for website, etc.). I wouldn't have really enjoyed just playing pool with my friends some nights. And I know I wouldn't have been interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with someone else, let alone actually falling in love with someone and crying my eyes out over it when she finally told me that she didn't feel the same way.

And I've also become aware that the bonds that I make between friends, whether they be from earlier in my life or new from college, are not permanent by any stretch of the imagination. Alarmingly, I don't really have ANY good friends from previous years with whom I regularly do anything. By regularly, I mean once a week, at the very minimum. The people with whom I spend a lot of time are always different from one year to the next. I rarely interact with my best friends from elementary school, junior high, and high school anymore, even though I may occasionally see them around on campus or try to stay in touch via the internet. I don't even see friends from freshman or sophomore year a lot anymore, even though I really enjoyed having some of them around in the house. That frightens me; was I not as close to some of my friends as I thought? Will I retain any of my friendships from here at college later in life? Have I changed so much so that I wouldn't even enjoy their company if they came to see me for a day or two? Would I be shocked to be reminded of whom I spent my time with during some of these years at school?

Sometimes I feel like I'm changing way too fast to appreciate the best things in my life: people. Just like I basically severed my ties with many people from high school since I graduated a year early (when I was just beginning to become friends with a lot of new people), I feel like maybe I'm doing the same thing to myself here at college, by being so ambitious and taking so many classes. And then I realize that there's nothing I can do about it anyway, because if I took less classes I'd probably just try and get more sleep or laze around at my computer more often, making that extra time worth nil. And I always interact with people from the house anyway, given that I live with them, and that's a lot more time I spend with people then I did during high school.

I guess there's nothing I can really do about this situation. I change, other people change, and life leads us all in different directions. What an amusing predicament.

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