Today was graduation and as I lined up next to the women I befriended four years ago, I thought about how awesome freshman year was.
That year was just amazing. For the first time, I had close friends that I could really count on. It wasn’t that I hadn’t experienced anything like that in high school, it was just that I hadn’t ever experienced it to that extent. Meeting Steph and Nat, I was amazed that I could find people so similar to me and yet so very different.
I distinctly remember one time freshman year when Steph and I were walking around campus at night (we were probably leaving Murray-Dodge, a place we hung out in often). Throughout the course of the conversation, one of us remarked about how crazy it was that the year was moving so quickly. This was in November. But even then, we felt the Princeton experience flying out from under us. We made the most of that year of course, but I’ll never forget that moment of complete clarity and consciousness.
Most of my memories of freshman year took place at the couches in the back of the Mathey dining hall. We would eat there basically every day and just talk for hours and have a good time. It really was a great freshman year experience. When I left my friends at dinner I would go spend countless hours with my roommate and hallmates. Part of me wants to say that we wasted so much time but the other part of me knows that that time was never really wasted. We spent it learning about each other, playing games, eating meals, debating philosophical concepts, pulling pranks and developing inside jokes. We had the best time. I think that was my perfect introduction to Princeton. If my freshman year had looked like any of my other years, my Princeton experience would not have been as great. But meeting new people, staying up until 4 am and recording dumb videos was honestly the best way I could have spent that year of my life.
The one regret I have about freshman year – and my subsequent years at Princeton – was that I didn’t always do what I wanted to do, especially in relation to social scenarios. I would often have a Mathey couch dinner with Steph’s roommates and friends whom I didn’t particularly like. Instead of just declining to hang out with those folks, I would stay put and say nothing, secretly dreading the interactions we would have. These eventually led to more contentious relationships with these people in my later years at Princeton and that’s something I wish I had stopped in its tracks. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I’ve learned how to avoid these situations. Even this year, I found myself hanging out with people I didn’t particularly like because they were with the people I did like. Of course, there’s something to be said for growing to like people or just sucking up your pride and preconceptions to be able to enjoy someone’s company for a short period. But honestly, those scenarios haven’t been the reality for me. In any case, I just wish I would have spent less time with people I didn’t like so that they would not have become people I disliked.
All in all, freshman year was a great year for me. But stay tuned, because it gets even better!
Tomorrow’s post: thoughts on Sophomore Year