New Year’s Eve I found myself surrounded by people I never particularly cared for in high school on our way to a series of parties with indifference packed away in my purse. Of course, plenty had changed – instead of someone’s daddy’s “hooptie” we were packed into someone’s daddy’s BMW, like clowns in this circus of terminal adolescence. But to me, it felt like a scene from the “Twilight Zone.” I was surrounded by my past, but it was a past to which I no longer belonged and my parents’ old anecdote, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” came to mind.
If, after nearly four years of higher institutional learning, I find myself back in the same car swerving to and fro down the same dead end street, what have I really to show for all this? Ten thousand frequent flyer miles only to arrive back where I started, but this time with a superficial chip on my shoulder. If everyone else seems so painfully unchanged after our four-year social sabbatical, what does that mean for me? Am I as painfully unchanged as well? Does anything ever really change or are we all just reinventing ourselves from a permanent mold that was ingrained somewhere deep in our adolescence?
Sure, we pick up an array of skills, traits and cocktail conversation topics along the way, accompanied by emotional baggage and the results of a selective memory. Now we hide our insecurities with a little more savvy; masking personal disappointments with nonchalant conversation of summers in Europe while patting ourselves on the back for everything we really weren’t in high school. As we’re drawn out of the looking glass of the present, higher and higher, to look down on our mistakes and shortcomings, we have to wonder how much have we really changed? And furthermore, how will we look at today years from now?
My guess is that we’ll see the same mistakes, played over and over on a broken record of character flaws; things we can never fix, rather try to shape into something productive. After spending four years developing into the person I always thought I wanted to be, New Year’s Eve of the year I’m supposed to graduate and embrace this new person, I found myself sitting with the old me in the backseat of car I could care less about in a town I thought I’d left long ago and thinking finally, how much I was really ready to leave – and this time, I won’t look back.
Whitney Friedrich is a senior majoring in Advertising and English.