Four years ago I made one of the best decisions of my life. I’ve made a lot of stupid decisions in my day, but let me tell you, choosing Oswego is one I will never regret. Two weeks after graduating, I face the reality of stepping out into the real world without a real plan, something that scares the living shit out of me, and I’m looking back at everything I’ve experienced at this school. The good, the bad, the weird, and I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything. The winds may be fierce, the snow may be powerful and the D Bus may have one of the most grammatically incorrect Facebook pages I’ve ever fucking seen, but its all part of the experience. And I had an amazing one.
So why am I writing this now? For starters, I like to write. And sometimes I like to be a little sappy. I also like to reflect on my experiences and how they’ve shaped me into who I am today. Combining all of those things, it just felt right. It’s a love letter to my time at Oswego, and maybe an apology to some (we’ll see once I get writing). It also gives me something to do during this post-grad life, which includes applying to jobs, trying desperately to hang out with the few friends you still have left at home and overall just doing your best to keep sane.
Okay, maybe that’s an over exaggeration. I’ve been doing okay. And maybe, just maybe, this will help someone entering their senior, or even freshman, year who doesn’t have a fucking clue about what they want in life, or someone like me who just graduated who feels the same. And maybe your surrounded by peers who have it all figured out and you’re just sitting there like “wow, I graduate in a year/just graduated, what the hell am I doing with my life?” And you know what? That’s just fine. You don’t need to have already accepted a job to be a success after college. As Nicki Minaj would say, we’re still young, and so is the night. Or something like that.
I came to Oswego after being dead set on going to Le Moyne College. After a visit to Oz, I decided it was the better choice, both financially (not that it really matters because I’M STILL GOING TO BE STUCK IN DEBT FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE) and socially. I knew a few people who were already at Oswego, and by my town’s standards, a few people means roughly 65 percent of the population. I didn’t know whether I would ever see them, but it felt like a safety net, knowing others from my small town made it at this place. This would be the first of many reminders that sometimes good things just magically land in your lap, whether you want to call those things luck or a blessing or fate or what have you is up to you.
I ended up falling into a pretty prime friend group early on freshman year, something not a lot of freshman get the chance to say. They would go on to be some of the best friends I’ve ever had, people I’ll be sure not to lose touch with until I’m old and can’t remember their names anymore. I was a pretty awkward guy freshman year, so I’m grateful. But anyone who says they’re not awkward their freshman year of college is FUCKING LYING TO YOU. Yeah, there may be the guys who seem too cool for school who seem to just have the right amount of “swag” and that base-bumping playlist they want the entire residence hall to hear, but they still wear a fucking snapback.
I would go on to make a lot of different experiences and meet a lot of different people that would end up helping to define the person I am or want to be. If there’s anything I learned in my four years at Oswego, it’s that with every bad thing comes something good. And while it may be hard to remember that in these post-grad months, it’s something I always try to remind myself. While I had my fair share of accomplishments and unforgettable moments, there were also disappointments. The last 9 months have been an up-and-down roller coaster ride. It will continue to be one until I figure out what I want to do with my life in these next couple months.
In one of the final episodes of “Mad Men,” Don Draper is told that there are “three women in every man’s life” (this wouldn’t have felt complete without a “Mad Men” reference, and if you’ve never watched it then what’s wrong with you?) Indeed, a big part of my college career was shaped by the women in my life. I had my ups and plenty of downs, and I’m still learning what it all means. As far as the downs, most of it was my fault, some of it not. Not everything worked out the way I would have hoped, but in the end, I guess that’s part of the experience. I’m lucky to have had a college sweet heart, or the one that got away, or any of the other relationships I experienced for better or for worse.
As for the other experiences, I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I like to think I was involved on campus as much as I would have liked. I became an RA my junior year and as far as great decisions go, it’s up there with the best of them. People can poke fun at or hate on ResLife all they want, but the fact of the matter is that I was doing something that felt rewarding and I experienced people and moments I never would have had I not applied for the job. CAY-WHAT!
However, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end (which I don’t think is entirely true but whatever). During the spring semester I received an internship with Indiewire, one of the most well respected online sources for film and TV. It was bittersweet to leave behind Oswego, Cayuga, my RA position, the Oswegonian, everything, during my last semester as an undergrad. But it was an opportunity I couldn’t really pass up. During that time, I experienced anxiety I’d never really experienced before. It was a rough time making the transition but I think, like everything else, it was an experience that helped shape me into who I am this very moment.
In all, I think that’s the point of this little essay or whatever you’d like to call it. I’ve always believed that people should always be changing, that they ARE always changing. I once heard a quote that said “the worse thing that anyone can tell you is ‘you haven’t changed.’” I don’t believe I’m the same person I was nearly three years ago when I started dating my first college girlfriend. I don’t think I’m the same person I was before I became an RA. I don’t think I’m the same person I was before I got my internship. Every experience has helped form me into the person I am, and while it may not appear to be that way, I think it’s true.
As I sit here typing this, I’m thinking back to the final couple nights I had in Oswego, the night before and the night after graduation. A friend of mine once said “it’s not Oswego that we miss, it’s the people and the experiences we had with them while there.” So those last two nights, I didn’t go to the bars. I didn’t go to Bevs, I didn’t go to the Bluffs or what have you. I stayed in and had one final hang out session with my friends. I got wasted, but that’s besides the point. When all is said and done, Bevs, Old City, the Bluffs, Aztecas, everything will still be there when we’re gone. But our friends won’t be. And my friends have helped me realize a lot of what I’m typing right now.
With that said, I have a lot of decisions to make within the next couple months. I got into a grad program at Oswego and could easily go back if that’s what I decide. Or I can continue to job search if I don’t have one by then. And while I’m terrified at the uncertainty (I’ve never been one to plan, but in this case, it would be nice to know), it’s nice having that option there. Whatever happens, I’m sure it’ll be for the best. I’ve come to believe maybe some things do happen for a reason. Maybe relationships are meant to start, and end, to simply realize we aren’t right for each other. Maybe I’m meant to go back to Oswego. Or maybe a job will pop up and there’s where my destiny lies. Who knows. But it sure is exciting. Horrifying. But exciting all the same. There will still be ups. There will still be downs. But it will all be an experience.