End of the Innocense

Walking around campus lately, I've encountered a huge number of p-froshes. (Mad props to the one whose parents recognized me from the column and said hi!) This may be partially due to Blue Devil Days or to the assumption that Duke has nice weather around this time of year. But whatever the case, these innocent young students have really been making me think about my own p-frosh and peon days. These kids just don't know what's about to hit them.

I think back to the first time I came here. A seventh-grader who hadn't even begun to think about college, I walked onto campus, took in the Chapel and the clear blue sky, and found myself totally hooked. For the next five years, all I thought about was Duke, Duke, Duke. I came here for PreCollege in vain hopes of getting a glimpse of the "Duke Experience" (which didn't turn out to be much like the real "Duke Experience" has been.) I didn't apply anywhere else -- except UNC, which doesn't count. And when I got my acceptance letter, I screamed so loud that the neighbors probably heard, but even then I didn't fully understand what I was so excited about.

I came to visit as a p-frosh, and I began to see a little of it. "Ooh, wild parties, boys, drinking, boys, dancing, really cute boys!" But that was basically the extent of it. And there's more to college than that.

The first two weeks of school didn't have much more depth -- one was devoted completely to orientation (read: getting disoriented at frat parties), and the other was the first week of classes, which might as well have been Orientation II. But as the semester progressed and the parties got old, I started to learn what I call the Freshman Lessons -- things that make you grow up fast. Some of them weren't pleasant. Some were. And I'll reveal a good many of them in my last column, which is coming up pretty soon. But I don't plan on telling you all of them... many, you see, are things you just have to learn for yourself, things that no one can tell you.

This semester, I've kept learning outside of the classroom. Though it's been highlighted with some amazing events -- joining Chi-O (hey, I got initiated last week!), burning benches after the UNC game, meeting one of the most inspirational people in my life -- it's also been a bad semester in some ways. Everything has been in a constant state of change, and keeping myself stable throughout it has been a real challenge.

And it makes me kind of sad that I have to accept some of the things I've figured out while bonding with friends, grieving over relationships gone wrong, or sitting around the Chronicle lounge debating the topics of the day. Sometimes I just want to go back to that state of being a p-frosh, when everything seems wonderful and new and exciting, when you trust everyone and always assume the best, when being a child is the best way to be. In short, I don't wanna grow up.

But we all have to do it some time. And looking back, I'm kind of glad that all the bad stuff has happened along with the good. I'd never be able to distinguish between the two if they werent both there. And I wouldn't have the foundation I have today which allows me to speak on things like this, because without experience, I'd simply be throwing a bunch of empty philosophy at you. I guess it might be a little too late to decide I want to be Peter Pan for the rest of my life -- Ive already started growing up.

I remember always thinking that Garth Brooks' "The Dance" was the most overused song on the planet. But there's an element of truth in it:

"I'm glad I didn't know the way it all would end, the way it all would go... Our lives are better left to chance: I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss the dance."

Without the dance, and the pain that naturally comes with it, we'd all just be standing still. And that's the most painful idea of all.

I'll end on a quote I learned from a very wise man, spoken by one even wiser.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumphs of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

-Teddy Roosevelt, April 23, 1910

The Countdown 8/25/97

Moving in 9/1/97

Going to Class 9/8/97

Rated PG 9/15/97

Athletes Foot in Mouth 9/22/97

Shaken Not Stirred 9/29/97

Sleeping with the Enemy 10/6/97

Withdrawal Symptoms 10/13/97

Why Duke? 10/20/97

Par-ants Weekend 10/27/97

Halloween 11/3/97

Who Am I? 11/10/97

Travel Guide 11/17/97

Gimmee a Break 11/24/97

Thank You 12/1/97

Campus Camp-out 12/8/97

Apply Yourself 12/15/97

Rushing Back to School 1/26/98

Chi-Omega Land 2/2/98

Aply Yourself Part 2 2/9/98

Three Month Itch 2/16/98

School Daza 2/23/98

Politics and Popularity 3/2/98

They Came They Saw, They Choked 3/9/98

Dating at Duke 3/16/98

Weekly Update 3/30/98

Beep Beep 4/6/98

Extra,Extra 4/13/98

Room to Move 4/20/98

End of the Innocense 4/27/98

Help Me 5/1/98

The Last Hurrah 5/8/98