FEATURED ALUMNA: Meta Valentic, PO ‘94
Major collegiate activities: Four years varsity soccer, Teaching Assistant, coffee pourer at Some Crust Bakery, regular watcher of Melrose Place
Current occupation: assistant director/independent film producer
Since graduation, I continually ruminate how I could have made college better for myself and those around me. This column is my attempt to make something positive out of it. I have been very hard on myself and the colleges for not being more awesome. Meta doesn’t have this problem. In her words: “I wanted college to be a place where I could experience everything and meet my best friends. I came from Washington, District of Columbia, and I wanted out of East Coast stuffiness. I ended up getting pretty much all of what I wanted.” So it does happen.
Meta, break it down (all the words henceforth are hers):
GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK: In college, you are at an age when you are overwhelmed with emotions and hormones and there is so much newness that you can’t necessarily think straight and be your best. I look back and cut myself some slack – it was ok to be a bit of a mess.
CHOOSE YOUR FRIENDS WISELY: My sophomore year, I tried to fit in with a group of “cool” kids. These girls fancied themselves as the queen bees. Even a nerdy place like Claremont has mean girls. They were gorgeous, but also judgmental, exclusionary, and just, well, bitchy. I think I felt like I missed out on running with a crowd like this in high school and had to experience it in college. In the meantime, I met and started being friends with a group of girls down the hall who were nice and inclusive. The queen bees treated me like crap. I remember one Friday night I was hanging out in the mean girls' dorm room. I suddenly looked around, realized they were awful, and left. I went straight to my new friends’ suite and they were very welcoming to me. And those women are still my best friends to this day and the best thing I gained from college.
TRY EVERYTHING, AND GO BIG: I was super busy in college, which I am proud of. In effect, my life was pretty binary. I was either all in and diligent as an athlete, student, holding a job, volunteering at the WU, and working out like crazy, or out of that cycle, cutting loose hard and drinking a lot.
The thing is, I wouldn’t advocate for more moderation, but I have an internal regulator for getting too out of control – not everyone does – which I think kept me from getting into a truly bad situation.
UNDERSTAND WHAT WORRYING REALLY IS: The cliched advice is “don’t worry about it,” but all you can do at that age is worry “what’s gonna happen to me?” All the things that were taking up space in my brain – insecurities about fitting in, anxiety about my future career – did they turn out to be all that useful? No. They are almost these comfort mechanisms that you hang onto to make yourself feel in control of something. Virtually all of those worries neither pan out or contribute to one’s life in a meaningful way. It would be really cool if I could have let them go and made brain space for better things.
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