College goes quickly: Soak in your ‘selfish years’

By Jenna Fitzgerald | Assistant News Editor

It feels like just yesterday that I was getting ready to make the big move from Dallas to Waco — color-coordinating my dorm with my roommate, stockpiling Baylor merch and buying an egregious number of those blue Ikea storage bags. Now, I’m heading into my senior year, applying to grad schools and preparing for all my “lasts.”

Where has the time gone?

My mom once told me my four years of college would be my “selfish years.” I didn’t quite understand what she meant at the time, but in retrospect, it makes all the sense in the world.

This is the one time in our lives when it’s OK — and, in fact, expected — to be selfish. No one is dependent on us. We’re just here, trying to figure out what career we want to pursue for the next several decades while simultaneously learning how to sort laundry, pay rent and cook anything other than bagels or ramen. It’s about growth. It’s about self-discovery. It’s about independence.

We begin to call our parents less and lean on our friends more. Perhaps the most beautiful part is that we are constantly finding new people to love, and they come from the most unexpected places at the most unexpected times.

Some click right away. I met my best friend on the very first day of class freshman year while on my walk from Cashion Academic Center to Memorial Dining Hall, and we’ve been attached at the hip ever since.

Others are a bit of a slow burn. I worked with one of my closest friends for an entire year without speaking more than a few words, only to discover how much we enjoyed each other’s company when we studied abroad together in Ireland.

It’s unlikely that we’ll ever live in such close proximity to so many of our friends again. Some will get married and start families of their own. Others will get a job or go on to grad school 500 miles away. People will weave in and out of our lives. Some will stick around to stand beside us on our wedding day. Others will only make a brief appearance. That’s just how life goes.

So enjoy it while it lasts. As someone who focuses just a tad too much on academic validation, I know it can be ridiculously difficult to put that essay or book down and let yourself breathe.

As I sit here thinking about my three years at Baylor so far, classes couldn’t be further from my mind. It’s the formative experiences I’ve had outside of classes that have contributed most profoundly to my character and intellectual development. My thesis and my job and my reading list and my everyday memories and each friend, professor, colleague and mentor who has lifted me up along the way — they are what have made this journey for me.

So, prioritize the people and activities that will help you grow, experience joy and find your footing in this crazy world. Go to football games. Submit that internship application. Participate in All-University Sing. Take that weekend trip to Dallas or Austin. Join the Dr Pepper Hour Club. Sign up for that 5K. Drive to Buc-ee’s. Make that late-night food run to Fuego or Insomnia. Study abroad. Learn and love and laugh and live, and do it selfishly.

These are your selfish years. Soak them in. They go by more quickly than you’d think.