The prospies have arrived on campus, and I’m afraid they’re not going to leave.
Now, I feel like I must say it’s not because I dislike them—in fact, if anything, I found their penchant for testing the boundary between short shorts and bikini bottoms intriguing. I enjoy hosting prospies because it’s like a sleepover party every weekend. I’ve nailed down giving directions to the parking lot and eaten many a delicious cupcake from the department fair. I appreciate watching prospies try to formulate the most optimal question to get at the essence of college life, because I remember being at that same worried place a year ago, when I thought my life could flip course at the answer to a single question. I even found the long lines to get into the dining halls well worth the wait for the three different kinds of pasta suddenly offered.
But I can’t crush this nagging feeling that my grade is about to be replaced. I mean, just a year ago, we were the people they were trying to coax into coming to this school, and now it’s like, where’s my tote bag? OK, sure, I have one stuffed under my bed (so much stuff ends up under my bed that I feel like I mention something at least once a column), but the point is that we’re on the verge of no longer being first-years.
And as hard a time as we’re often given, being a first-year is pretty awesome. For one thing: low expectations. People don’t expect us to know anything or be particularly intelligent. They think we were reared with Lindsay Lohan as our role model and the Teletubbies as our spiritual guides. Thus, they are impressed when I manage to point out Canada on a map.
Being new on campus also gives you the invincibility of feigned ignorance. I wrote a column about this at the beginning of the year, but to save you the step of checking your carefully kept first-year column records, being a first-year means having the perfect excuse for everything. For example, how were you to know the pools were off-limits after six? You’re only a first-year. Say it with a couple of blinks of those innocent eyes and a nervous flip of your hair (or worried tug of your mustache), and you’ll have Campus Security giving you rides to classes in the morning because they’re worried you won’t make it there.
Also, being a first-year means everyone older than you encourages you to do only what you love and nothing more. “Don’t worry about figuring out your life, it’ll just come.” I have a feeling my adviser won’t be telling me this by the end of my sophomore year. Suddenly, I’m going to have to go from being the only first-year in my department and getting away with asking a billion questions to having to answer all the young’uns’ queries, and I am not ready for that responsibility.
So I guess what I’m feeling when I look at all these prospies is a sense of envy. I wouldn’t mind someone handing me a map of campus again and walking me through it because, seriously, where are the different Clarks? And where does the omnipresent Edmunds become the mysterious Lincoln? I would joyfully welcome a crowd of people to surround me at lunch and eagerly advise me on all aspects of my life. And, above all, I would love to have four years of college life still stretching ahead of me. Plus, the yard sale under my bed has a corner of space left to accommodate another tote bag.
But because Benjamin Button seems to have been the exception to the rule that you can’t age backward, I’m soon going to have to gracefully hand over my claim to being a first-year to the prospies. They have come, and they’re here to stay. So my friends and I will give up our rooms and move down into the basement. We will cover our faces with paint and sparkles and cheer them on as they walk through the gates. But in the meantime, we will cheer ourselves by looking at the Class of 2017 Facebook page, where we will have enough material to tease them for years to come. Mockery, after all, is the one comfort of maturity.