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If I knew then…

May 11, 2011

what I know now.

I spent four days playing college student last week. Leaving my family at home, it was just me in a dorm room among a bunch of strangers. Kinda like my first week of college. I made friends quickly. I fell into a routine (skip breakfast, Starbucks run, 8:30 class, lunch outdoors…etc). It really felt like I was the 20-year-old me again, only masquerading as a grown-up.

I half-expected to run into my collegiate self coming around the bend in the road from Dorm 15. Long hair – really long hair, and poufy bangs – or worse, no bangs at all. Wearing shorts and sweaters from places like The Limited and Wet Seal. Or going for contrived grunge in clunky shoes, plaid shirts and torn jeans.

I spent a lot of time alone, walking up and down, to and fro, from class to class. While I brought a roomate along last week, she was on her own track and we met up infrequently. The normal distractions of my little ankle-biters were not around.

I spent a lot of time thinking about that four year span of time. Wishing I had done things differently, really.

I would have studied more. That sounds strange, I’m sure, but had I known… This is it, You will never go to grad school – this is your chance. Learn now. The men and women who taught there were my mentors – I would have spent more time at their feet, soaking in every word.

I would have stayed overseas the entire year instead of just one semester. I have yet to go back – I always thought I would visit often, even live there, but it hasn’t been so. Money was tight, yes, but what’s another$2K of debt when living abroad is at stake? A drop in the proverbial bucket of life-experience, that’s what.

I would have taken time just to be...to soak in the enormity of that place. The breathtaking beauty of the sun and the ocean and the mountains.

I would have spent more time knowing people and less time trying to know everyone. I would have dated less had I known that The One was not to be found there. He came later – not long after, but later. Foolishly, I spent so much time trying to find him that I think I lost precious opportunities to get to know other people in deeper, more significant ways.

I would have reached beyond what I knew to discover more of what I didn’t. I didn’t know how to relate to people that were not from the same background, the same viewpoints. I was foolish for not trying harder to reach beyond what I already knew. Perhaps this is a natural result, or consequence, of a sheltered childhood? Perhaps I just wasn’t mature enough – I wanted to reach out, I just didn’t know how. Either way – my bubble was just too small.

I would have found a way to have a car. Not having a car is bad. Not having a car in Malibu is far worse.

I would have lived off campus (with said car) and saved a bucket of money on rent (which would have financed said semester in London). But I would’ve kept the same roommates…

I would have done Songfest. What was I thinking?! To miss out on such a significant and extraordinarily fun experience. That was dumb. Just plain dumb.

I would have gone to Heidelberg instead of London. Just kidding – I don’t regret that for a second (even though my closest friends all went to Germany). Except maybe I would have chosen Florence, instead. Still haven’t made it to Florence.

I would have taken the same classes, chosen the same major, and sat up front…again. I’m just like that. I love school. I love papers and I even get a weird satisfaction from study. I loved handing in a thick folio of weeks’ work. I loved blue book tests and essays. About my class choices – I wouldn’t change a thing.

But I can’t go back, I can’t do it again. It was nice to pretend for a few days, but the real me was so happy to go home to my ankle-biters and their eager, boyish affection.

My regrets are small, at least.

I was blessed, so richly blessed and shaped and nurtured in that environment. I’m certain I would not be the me that is sitting here had I not been the me gadding about down there, so many years ago.

As I look through old albums, I see that one thing hasn’t changed. The people that made those four years so exceptional – for the most part – are all still a part of my life. The accepted me then, silly as I was, and they accept me now.

Maybe I don’t really have so many regrets after all. 

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Angie permalink
    May 11, 2011 2:06 pm

    Me Neither (no regrets–although I wish I could have spend a semester in London). I admit to being already consumed with worry about giving my boys the same experience me & Jason had. I have 8 years to figure that out. Let’s see 8 years to raise about 2/3 of a million dollars. (50k times 4 years times 3 boys).

  2. Bethany permalink
    May 11, 2011 3:43 pm

    Love this! I completely agree, especially about spending more time studying (ha, I know), more time overseas, and less time looking for The One.

  3. Paul permalink
    May 11, 2011 4:47 pm

    Well written. I think a lot about who I was while in school and who I was trying to be. I am trying to help my nephew research college now and am letting him borrow the lens through which I see today–the much wiser Paul. Those short years molded me so much. (You should have stayed in London a year with us–plan a trip now and go back. It will remove the regret and future regrets and show your ankle buyers the world is small and regrets are easily dismissed through action)!

  4. Shannon permalink
    May 11, 2011 5:41 pm

    Well said, Adelle. Especially the part of having the same roommates. 😉 haha. I share many of the same regrets (oh how I begged my parents from that British phonebooth downstairs to let me stay another semester!) I have many more regrets, like should I have even gone to Pepperdine, but then I wouldnt have met YOU! Thanks for being one of the few wonderful things I hold dear to my heart from PU. Love ya!

  5. May 12, 2011 2:21 am

    I love your last line, “The people that made those four years so exceptional – for the most part – are all still a part of my life. The accepted me then, silly as I was, and they accept me now.” I find that to be true, as well. It makes me feel really, really blessed to be in that magical place with such an incredible group of people. We were/are really blessed. I know many that came after us and did not have the same experience. I think the classes of ’94-96 were just about the best to ever come through Pepperdine!

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