When the Future Turns out to be More Awesome than Expected... by Jody Casella

I was not what anyone would call a huge fan of high school, so graduation day was a relief. The future, I thought, could only be better, and I was putting all of my hopes into one thing: college.

Oh, how I longed to go off to college. I had this dreamy, kooky idea of what it would be like, mostly cobbled together from random, glossy college brochures I'd been collecting. You know the ones with the guys throwing frisbees on the verdant lawns and the wholesome-looking girls strolling to class, the ivy-covered brick buildings hovering in the background.

I had read and loved The Great Gatsby in high school. I didn't like it for the crazy, over-the-top parties or the moony devotion Gatsby had for that flake Daisy. What grabbed me was the self-made thingy Gatsby had going on--how he'd shed his old self and embraced a new persona. Forget the crummy, poor, country boy James Gatz. Enter: the suave, pink-suited, Robert Redfordy millionaire: Jay Gatsby.

Here was what 18 year old Me--who had struggled with shyness and angst and nerdiness and a painful lack of social graces--thought, as I was about to embark on my journey to a college 1250 miles away: They don't know me there. I can remake myself and be brighter and funnier and smarter and friendlier. I can be anything I want, do anything I want.

Join a sorority.

Be in a play.

Here I am as one of the children in A Childen's Hour

Make friends! Study! Read! Write! Learn! Expand my horizons!

Cut to: graduation.

As the day loomed closer, I was terrified. What if nothing else of consequence ever happened to me again? How could new friends or new experiences top what were basically the best four years of my life?

I knew what a great gig college was. The cool classes. The interesting people. The lack of responsibilities (except for laundry, I rarely did anything to take care of myself.) Even the food wasn't that bad.

College was my home. It was where I grew up. Okay, I hadn't become the perfect, sparkly self I had imagined I could be. Truly, I was still kind of a mess. But I liked myself better. And it wasn't an act--that new, one-step-closer-to-a-better-me Me.

I walked around in a daze that day, choking back tears. Oh, well, I thought. It was good while it lasted, even if it will never be THIS good ever again. 

I was wrong...


  1. There's on aspect of college that can never be replicated: the zero-responsibilities part! Sure, life is so much fuller and richer now, but there are days.....

    1. Ha! Or I guess you could move back into your parents' basement!

  2. I loved college, too, even if it was not what I would call carefree (majored in science; went to a school where dorms were mostly unavailable after freshman year so I had to find and take care of my own place; etc.). But I also went far away to a school without anyone else from my high school, and enjoyed the freedom to make my own decisions.

    And yes, life has gotten even better since then!

    1. Maybe it's not the lack of responsibilities part so much as being on your own, having some control of your own life--the freedom, like you said. I think people who look back wistfully at being a kid forget the part about how kids have very little control over anything.

  3. Here's to life getting better and better...and better...

  4. Like you, Jody, I didn't like school. I suffered through it, waiting for the day I would finally get to go to college. I reinvented myself, stumbling a little along the way, and those years really made me the person I am today.

    After a brief slump immediately afterwards, my then-fiancee and I made some changes in our lives and everything's just gotten better and better since then.

    1. Reinvented is exactly the right word, Paul. Something I wonder is what happens to the people who LIKED high school. Does life go downhill from there? Does it keep getting better? OR are there not that many people after all who really liked high school?

    2. Well my wife really liked school and, at least academically, had a rough time in college. But I think we'd both agree that things have just kept getting better for us since then, despite the hard knocks like throws in every now and again.

  5. Great post. It really does get better !


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