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Jul 06 2015
by Christian Maness

Adapting to College Life: My Texas Transformation

By Christian Maness - Jul 06 2015

Life isn't uniform. There are a lot of twists and turns and curve balls that get thrown into the mix and it’s really up to us to roll with the punches. For the first 18 years of our lives we have had other people teach us what we need to know, make us grow and turn us into the young adults we are today. As children we have structure, direction and coloring books. As young teens we have rebellion, mistakes and numerous parental lectures.

However, as young adults we experience a whole new beast that opens our eyes to the world we’re about to enter: college. Personally speaking, I felt headstrong and ready to take on this new chapter of my life. I thought, “It's just high school 2.0.” Up until a week ago that was my impression of college life, but a trip down to Texas taught me differently.

Down in the sweltering heat and torrential downpour of Hurricane Bill, I experienced life at Baylor University. A friend of mine is a student there and one day I had the idea to road trip with two other friends to reunite one last time before we all headed our separate ways. You know how people say the destination isn't what's important, but the journey? Well if that's really the case, those three days were the journey.

Chronologically speaking, the first experience I remember might not have been the first we had, but it was the initial point at which I learned a useful tidbit about college. The three of us who had come to visit our friend attended one of her summer classes alongside her. Naturally, we sat in the back row, hoping to avoid any sort of awkward interaction. But the first thing the professor does is call us out in front of people older to us and unknown to us.

Deer in headlights isn't a proper expression for what happened next. It was more like deer in floodlights on the Hollywood red carpet at a Michael Bay movie premier. After freezing for a good 10 seconds, we were able to speak. I was under the impression we were only there because our friend had said we were attending Baylor in the fall (which is not the case). So I said, “Yeah, we're going to Baylor.” However, my three friends were not under the same impression and they told the truth of their college enrollment at non-Baylor universities. Backtracking I blurted out, “Just kidding, I’m going to Northwestern.” Everyone proceeded to laugh at me. Yes, I lied to a college professor and got made fun of for it.

The moral here isn't don't lie to your college professors (that's really a given), it's expect the unexpected and be prepared for it. College, like life, isn't uniform. Every university is different and so is every professor. You never know what might happen to you in a class, on campus or just living your life there, but you always need to be ready for whatever gets thrown your way.

After having a sufficiently awkward experience and being subsequently ridiculed by my friends, we all came to the realization that we were together again for what might be the last time in a long while. Naturally, our inner children took over and it was time for a rousing and very personal tournament of Uno. Every reverse, skip or draw two cards was met with an “Aw, I see how you are” and a vehement glare followed by laughing from the people who weren't being targeted. I know it may seem like I'm reaching for straws when I say I learned something from a card game, but I did. Enjoy the friends you make when you make them. Take in their company and what their personalities offer because college is an adult world and in such a world people come and go. The catch is that you don't really know when someone's going to leave your life as you get older so it's on you to take in his or her friendship while it's still near to you.

The culmination of our trip was a night out in the city of Dallas. Maybe you've heard of a place called Tallywhackers. It's a sort of all male Hooters with scantily clad male waiters. We planned to eat and then go dancing. Unfortunately, after dinner we came to realize most dancing clubs aren't open on a Wednesday night, or at least the ones we went to. So what we had intended to be a fun night, dressed up and out on the town, ended up being hours in the car with each other and a run to Whataburger.

Still not reaching for straws, I found that this isn't a lesson that really applies to college life but life in general: sometimes plans turn on you and the time you have becomes unplanned; there's nothing wrong with taking everything in stride and making the most of your situation. I feel as if that's something that can be carried with me through the rest of my life and if you're reading this I hope you take it seriously. The unknowns and happenstances of life are what make it spontaneous and fun. Letting go and enjoying the course that life takes for you is part of growing up because we come to realize that we aren't always in control and that's not always a bad thing.

So as we said our goodbyes and I got an ugly sort of emotional with nasty sobs and endless tears (best friend goodbyes are some of the worst) I felt a sense of growth. These lessons I had seen and learned through my first real college experience (especially staying in a dorm, that's a bit of an adjustment) prepared me for my first year that will begin in the fall. Life takes some twists and turns and there is some fun in it so live and learn and enjoy these next four years because they seem like they're going to be pretty magical.

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Christian Maness - Northwestern University

Christian is a freshman at Northwestern University majoring in magazine and photojournalism hoping to one day work for fashion magazines such as Harper's Bazaar, Vogue or Elle. His interests include clothing, runway photography and tea. His dream job would be a mix of the work featured in the movie "The Devil Wears Prada" and real life fashion mogul Anna Wintour.

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