“How can a person know everything at eighteen but nothing at twenty-two?” - Nothing New, Taylor Swift
The thing no one tells you about change in college is that it doesn’t happen spontaneously, nor suddenly, but that it starts off as drops of water from a loose faucet, then a leak, and before you realize it, you’re already eight feet under water. And like water, it’s difficult to force change into a certain shape, and equally just as hard to quantify the entirety of it. Sure, I can say all the things you hear so often–I’ve become more “outgoing” or “confident”--but that doesn’t seem to be the case either. Before college, I liked to believe what everyone believed about me, because it’s a lot easier being told who than getting to know yourself.
I called myself an introvert, which should mean that I enjoy spending time with myself, but the truth was I enjoyed spending time with others far more than I did with myself. Myself— actually let’s call him “Sven” here, because first-person pronouns can get confusing, Sven is very honest, and not in a good way.
“How are you doing today?”
“How do I look today?”
“Like yourself (derogatory).”
“Am I a dumbass and is everyone here infinitely more talented and knowledgeable than me, and will I never be able to find a job?”
“Yes, yes, and yes.”
As you can see, Sven is not a pleasant character. Actually, if we’re being totally honest, Sven’s a total asshat. Imagine having a housemate who wakes you up at 3AM every day, doesn’t take out the trash, insults you for being lazy despite doing nothing themself, and comments on all your biggest insecurities. Now, imagine spending all your time, every single second, twenty-four seven, with that housemate, all your childhood, college years, adulthood, until your deathbed. Yeah, I wouldn’t want to get to know Sven either.
So, instead of getting to know Sven, I decided to get to know other people, who could tell me all they knew about Sven and his misadventures, at least from their perspective. I learned about Sven, including all the rumors, and formed expectations about how Sven “should” and would be. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy really.
But the thing is, Sven isn’t all that bad, as I’ve come to learn. Sven is, as I would say, “pretty chill”. There have been many times where I had no one else but Sven, but he came in strong. Sven comforted me when I got rejected from my most anticipated club. Sven talked me into going to that poetry-dance workshop, despite me being the type of person to trip on a flat surface. Sven even cheered me out of the bed some mornings for my 8:30 writing class, which I so wanted to skip. Sure, Sven has pushed me into some awful decisions, leading to what I like “Saturday morning regrets”, but he did it with the best intentions in mind—I think, I’m not actually sure.
I’ve known about Sven since, well, when I was born, but I’ve never really “known” him. And that’s one of the best (and arguably worst) things about college. Instead of spending time with family, I get to spend a lot more time with Sven. And no one can claim to know Sven better than I do, because while some of my friends have gotten to talk to him for the past few months, I’ve been stuck with him for the last 18 years of my life. I don’t think college so much necessarily changed me (or Sven), but rather simply gave us the space to know each other.
Even now, I’m still learning funny things about Sven I’ve never known, like how he pretends VitaminWater is healthier than plain water, but deep down knows that it’s all just marketing and that he’s wasting his food points.
Anyways, I’d recommend you get to know your “Sven”. Who knows? They might be a lot cooler than you thought. You might even become best roommates some day.
Spencer Chang is a Trinity freshman. His column typically runs on alternate Thursdays.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
Spencer Chang is a Trinity sophomore and an opinion managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.