Hate is such a strong word. I am not sure it’s totally appropriate in this instance, but I really don’t look back on much of my college experience fondly. And since you only get one shot at college, and I did not like mine so much, I have taken to casually using the word "hate" when describing my Georgetown experience.
I need to get over this and be real. First of all, it does not really matter since it’s in the past. But now in my mid 30s (or as my father would say, middle-aged…thanks, Dad) I am increasingly sentimental and increasingly saddened that I did not enjoy those four years more than I did.
What this really comes down to is accepting who I was at that time, and realizing my lack of good memories was as much about me as the place.
So what is this all about? After years of thinking about it, I am ready to admit it was simply my own insecurity that created – and has fostered – such ill feelings about my college experience. I felt totally out of place at Georgetown. I never felt like I fit in. I was incredibly jealous that so many people had more money than I did. I had to hold down jobs and resented that I could not go on vacations with other students. I did not feel smart. I was embarrassed that I did not know what Phillips Academy was, or Groton or Middlesex, for that matter. I was angry that my high school – supposedly one of the best in the country – gave us multiple choice tests and did not ask us to write. I was mortified that my high school extracurricular activities did not include field hockey…and that, frankly, that was not an option at my school. I had to fake knowledge of things that seemed so natural to everyone else (What is investment banking? What is this McKinsey place people are talking about? Where is Gstaad? What is Wharton?). I was even embarrassed with my close friends (and yes, I did have friends there) when we went away to their summer houses and I did not know how to water ski. I did not grow up going to camp or with a lake house, how would I know how to water ski? And I was too afraid of looking silly to simply enjoy learning to water ski at that time. For me, it was like the after school special of not knowing anyone to sit with in the cafeteria, and feeling worthless because it seemed everyone else had tons of friends, endless knowledge, ease in social situations. And of course, knew how to ski, play golf and tennis.
It was a tough time. I had never not fit in, and it never occurred to me that I would feel this way during the years that everyone said would be the best of my life.
So here I am, at 34…still thinking about and regretting how I spent my years at Georgetown, and wishing I had the fabulous college memories everyone else seems to have. I still believe I met a lot of people I simply did not like – and that was not all based on my psyche. Some people just suck. But now I realize, am ready to admit, and more importantly accept, that much of my sub-par experience was because of where I was at that time.
Most importantly, memories are great but what you have today is what really matters. And I count two of my closest friends in the world from Georgetown. They alone were worth any yuck I felt.