I’ve been out of college for almost 3 years now, and there isn’t a time that I miss more in life than those 4 years I had in North Manchester, Indiana attending Manchester University. Not just because it was college and I had fun, but also because in those 4 years, I became who I am today.
Ask anyone, in high school, in college, my family, I was the partier. And going in to my freshmen year of college was no different. I was taking super easy classes, played on the women’s basketball team, and thought I was invincible. I was more worried about going out and having fun than I was getting good grades and representing my team well off the court. I mean, I was 18 years old, first time living away from my parents, let’s be real… What kid wouldn’t go crazy!?
Well it all came to a halting stop about 2 months into my first year.
I got caught drinking, underage, and off campus. BOOM! Life hit me.
My parents were pretty pissed (mainly because this wasn’t the first time something like this happened with me), my coach was very disappointed, and my teammates were pretty pissed off (because now we had A LOT more running to do). I wasn’t proud of it, but I also always try to make light of situations, so I joked about it. Not everyone thought it was as funny as I did.
But hey, my parents threatened me and said if I didn’t get my act together, I’d be moving home and going to IPFW. Sure as hell didn’t want that. And my coach said if I didn’t get my grades up to at least a 3.0 GPA my first semester I could potentially be kicked off the team.
Wam bam thank you ma’am… I got a 3.5 GPA my first semester!! I was still on the team, I got to stay at Manchester, I was golden.
For the next 3 years I would be in and out of my coach’s office talking about drinking. Why? Because I didn’t exactly learn my lesson my freshmen year. I also was the face of the university’s To Drink or Not to Drink program where I spoke to first years about the repercussions of drinking underage at a small campus. (How would you like to be known by 3 years’ worth of first years as the girl who got caught)?
In the classroom, however, I had it together. I had never flat out told my professors about getting in trouble my freshmen year, but I’m pretty sure they all knew. Regardless, my grades were good, my professors liked me, and I was starting to get involved in the Accounting and Business Club. Life in the classroom was good.
Not very many teammates agreed with my drinking habits. And to me, I didn’t care. They could get over it. Who are they to tell me who to be and what to do? This was a constant conversation I would have with my coach week after week. And finally he said something that made me think:
Why do they have to accept who you are and what you do, and you can’t accept who they are and what they believe in?
It made sense. Why was I telling them to basically deal with it? Yet, I wasn’t willing to deal with what they had to say? From then on (granted it was middle of my junior by now) I understood where they were coming from. I understood that my going out was bigger than me; it was about the image I was setting for the women’s basketball program.
Come my senior year, I was a totally different person (and also 21). My going out didn’t change much, but it didn’t have to. What did change was my self-centeredness (if that’s even a word).
I was voted the only captain of the women’s basketball team for the 2011-2012 season, my last season.
After all of that? After all that bitching and moaning for 3 years by everyone and me acting stupid and not caring about anyone, I get voted captain? Are my teammates stupid? Ha! But they trusted me. And that alone showed me I couldn’t let anyone of those people down.
Enter my fear of failure.
Every year, on the first day of practice, we had to run a timed mile. Everyone was given their individual times, and if you didn’t make it, you couldn’t practice. For 3 years, I never made it on the first try. My coach told me that if I didn’t make it my first try, as a senior captain, he would take away the captain title from me. I. Had. To. Make. It. This. Time. No excuses! I did everything in my power to prepare for this, all the while totally freaking out because I didn’t think I was ready. So the day before the mile, I went in to my coach’s office and just started crying hysterically. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t speak. I knew that tomorrow I was going to lose my captain title and it would have been the biggest failure of my life.
The day of the mile, he gives me a card that says:
What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
And that phrase alone has been the one thing that has stuck with me in every aspect of my life.
No, I didn’t make the mile on the first try. And yes, I got to keep my captain title.
And to finally wrap up my senior year of college I was asked to speak at the annual students’ awards banquet, and I was also nominated by a teammate for the Outstanding Student Leader of the year. Me? A teammate nominated me? AND they wanted me to speak? Like hello, does the school not remember my first 3 years there? Di-sas-ter.
But I spoke about my crazy three years and how they brought me to that very moment. My mom cried, my teammate who nominated me cried, hell I think I cried. I had come a longggg way. And that’s what college is about right? Finding yourself.
I owe them all more than they’ll ever know. And I could never thank them enough for believing in me and never giving up on me.
I am this person today, because of those people and that university. They changed my life.