5 Things From Your Childhood That Live On Through College

by Nicole

College: where adults come to learn that adulthood may be a tad bit misrepresented. The miserable shadow of the disease mysteriously entitled “growing up” has followed us since we stood only as high as our knees; now, our larger frames must face a larger reality filled with grotesque symptoms such as bills, traffic, taxes,  offices and—(shudder)—responsibilities.  

Or at least, that’s what we thought.

After three years in college, I have come to a surreal and fascinating conclusion: half of adulthood is truly understanding your childhood. We've aged dreading the day that we would have to cast the joys of our innocence aside, only to learn that if anything, we were absolute amateurs at things we once adored, and our lives have been a preparation to truly explore those nostalgic passions of our youth.

The independence of college teaches you what truly motivates and lasts in the hearts of the people around us. To exemplify this, I've compiled a short list of five things that persevere beyond our childhood memories:

1. Food Choices

Freedom is the ability to choose what you chew, and my, does freedom taste sweet. Or salty. Or fried. Or like it’s slathered in butter and gravy and cheese. Thankfully, college opens a whole new arena of new foods to experience and new cultures to explore; sushi and Thai food are some of the biggest hits on campus, and a Falafel station in the Wood Center proved to be a welcome debut. However, it takes one look in the cafeteria to see the old favorites: a sea of salted fries, a copious amount of cheese-sprinkled pizzas, the myriad of melted cheeseburgers, and the infamous omnipotent soft-service ice cream machine whose only limits is the confine of your stomach lining. I’m fairly certain this place appears in children’s food fantasies. Some may argue that college students grow weary of the selection as the semester goes on; I would counter with three words: Chicken. Nugget. Day.

The noms are nostalgic here.

2. Play Time

College students love to slide down stuff, jump on stuff, run on stuff, do cartwheels, hide and crawl on stuff, and pretty much test the limitations of both their bodies and physics. The fearlessness of childhood stunts just gets brought to a brand new level as our bigger bodies are tall and strong enough to do even more ridiculous, daring things. You start to see just how dangerous those stunts of the past truly are.

For example, a group of students and I took to the sledding hills over the weekend to have a little winter fun. My bruises from that day have taught me just how either oblivious or brave I was when I was a child. I used to get running starts and aim towards the steeply-angled jumps—my older eyes now see the pernicious shine of the well-worn ice chutes that plunge your body at neck-breaking speeds.  While my friends and I clung to the fence at the top of the hill strategizing, kids that stood as tall as our hips were whooping and leaping down the hill with the bravado of warriors.

Don’t get me wrong, we still did it—college students always do it anyway. We’ll pile ten people onto a single sled just because we can. I've seen my peers slide down hills after an ice storm, leap off of ten-foot walls, and revel in a building-wide game of hide-and-go-seek tag. The scale gets grander, and the competition gets fiercer. Play time stays incredibly serious whether you’re 12 or 21 years old.
Skarland students chance the icy slopes around campus.

3.  A Fondness For Destruction

Ask any engineer: building something with your own two hands is incredibly moving and beautiful. It takes hours of meticulous planning, practice, and both physical and psychological pain. It takes a love for the art and a sharp mind for the science; it takes a soul that can handle failure and a will that makes steel look like tissue paper. The end product is a compilation of blood, tears and lost sleep; the reward of seeing that vision come into existence is something exquisite. 

And yet, ask that same person if they want to break something, and the answer is almost always a giddy “yes!”

Kids make sand castles and then kick them over with glee; they spend hours creating detailed cities with Legos and then play Godzilla; any toy with moving parts becomes subject to their violent whims in the plots of their tragic, random stories. The paradox of loving both the creation and decimation of something lives on into our college years, but like many other things on this list, it suddenly reaches a whole new scale. UAF hosts Starvation Gulch, where organizations of students assemble and compete to build the best structure that they then all set on fire. This is the college version of Legos, and the entire campus joins the celebration. The traditions don’t end there—when the weather gets warmer, a SpringFest favorite blooms, and even the Chancellor joins students in throwing watermelons off the roof of Gruening. Watching fruits splatter after falling eight stories unifies the student body in a very special way.
Photo courtesy of Alaska Dispatch.

4. A Love/Hate Relationship With Sleep

Ah, to sleep, perchance, to dream. And yet, so many college students decide that dreaming isn't all it's cracked up to be, and opt for the semi-lucid hallucinations after 48 hours of consciousness fueled by a countless number of energy drinks. Part of being adult means setting your own bed time, and at that moment, all our five-year-old selves suddenly realize that we now can stay up and use all that time otherwise spent laying horizontally. The possibilities are endless--we can stay up and watch cartoons, eat ice cream, dance to music, learn a new language, bake a cake, whatever we want to do! (Of course, in the case of college, that usually translates to a Netflix marathon, walking around campus at 3am, and either making a late-night Denny's run or staying in and seeing what pizza places are still open for delivery). That's a wonderful amount of freedom.

That's also a wonderful vicious cycle when the daylight comes back around. Turns out, now we have to be awake for responsibilities, and suddenly the same bed that we spurned the night before looks like a colorful cloud from heaven. We ache for that mound of blankets and pillows all throughout our daily duties until--finally--nap time. College kids love their nap-time. We convince ourselves it's different--there's just something rebellious about sleeping in the middle of the day, and we assure ourselves it's a sign of maturity to choose when we lay our heads into peaceful slumber, according to our whims. However, when we wake up and the sun is sinking again, we also realize that as much as we hate sleep, we love sleep with a passion, and begrudgingly admit that kindergarten had a good thing going when they invented nap time. If only college professors did the same.

Starbucks can only defy the laws of biology for so long...
Image courtesy of mashable.com

5. A Sense of Adventure

I didn't realize how narrow my scope of the world was until I began my college life. These people are crazy, they're spontaneous, they're fearless and sometimes borderline naive, and I am now so completely one of them. We come to college with all these big plans, and in the process we all learn how fleeting some opportunities are; hence, we jump at them with wild vigor. From the outside, this can look pretty stupid. Some misunderstanding minds might call this youthful stupidity, the craze of passing phases, and the era of nearsighted journeys that all come to swift and sometimes shameful ends.

My response to that is yeah, some of those memories are embarrassing. Most of them are silly. All of them are experiences full of lessons and laughs and the occasional ludicrousness. Some of us are chasing childhood dreams; some of us are still figuring out what we want. There is no step-by-step process to figure this out, no clean multiple-choice bubble sequence that will magically spout our purpose or goals. This is a messy, clumsy, incredible journey that requires some sweat, tears and faith in order to pull through it to the end. Oddly enough, college is where we learn to let go again, and distinguish the life we're plotting versus a life worth living.

This all starts with little steps, little adventures that form an attitude. This is the attitude that spawns memories such when we went to a hypnotist show, or we played in open mic, or we dressed in costumes for the little kids coming to Trick-or-Treat in the dorms, or we went sledding in -20 degree weather, or we roamed campus at 4:30 in the morning because the northern lights were out. Sure, sometimes adventures go awry--but I have yet to regret a single one of them. College is where we explore the world and ourselves, how we fit and what we want to do.

Photo courtesy of Nanook Life.

And that, my friends, is truly when adulthood begins.

1 comment

Angela Grider said...

Nap time is the most amazing concept in the universe. :D

Powered by Blogger.