Ever since I came home from Tampa and saw all my friends, I quickly noticed there is no comfortable way to talk about your college experiences with your friends.
When you start a conversation with your old high school friends or acquaintances that you forgot existed, the topic of college usually comes up. It tends to go the exact same way every time.
You’ll go up to your friend and say: “Hey, I haven’t seen you in forever! How was (insert random university, and hopefully you can remember where they go at the least)?”
“Oh it was fun, you know, nice to go to a new place and meet new people. What about you, how’s Tampa?”
“It’s also going well, everything’s good…”
Now the conversation ends and you awkwardly stand facing the person for another 10-30 seconds until making up some reason to leave that spot.
“Hey, great talking to you but I have to go to uh…church.” (It’s currently 9 pm on a Saturday).
After that awkward conversation there’s never really any way to end the meeting normally. The worst part is the conversation doesn’t need to be awkward, but nobody gives any detail into their college experience. You can’t honestly say a full year of college was just “fine.”
It’s sad it gets to that point where no one cares enough to explain anything interesting about a full year of school. Next time someone asks, why not have some fun and take a new original route?
Start off with something like: “Oh god, I can’t even start to tell you how terrible it was… you?” That way you’ll actually get a follow up question of something like: “Really? Why was it so terrible?”
Then you can have all the fun in the world!
Throw in fun uncomfortable stories like “It all started during rush week when the hazing began. From what I remember every single frat took a turn beating me until I blacked out from the pain. The worst part is I didn’t even pledge!”
Or: “Well after waking up hung-over in the women’s restroom at the IHOP 3 days in a row I figured ‘I probably should’ve gone home for Thanksgiving’.”
That’ll definitely keep the conversation going! No more awkward standing around because your “friend” is actually interested.
Here’s another fun idea (not that I encourage lying) try telling 4 people completely different and contradicting stories about your college experiences and see if they figure it out . Let’s call it a “social experiment” (because that sounds much more legitimate than “messing around”).
Imagine your friends figuring out they’ve all been tricked while talking together, how priceless would that be?
“So apparently John had a fun year studying abroad in London.”
“He told me he was in jail for the last 3 months for armed robbery.”
“He told me he took the year off to play tennis to train for the 2012 Olympics.”
If they confront you, at least that means they were listening. Also if they confront you about it at least you can call them out for talking about you behind your back, so nobody really wins!
I’ve also learned from these short awkward conversations about college that if you don’t mention any bad news nobody seems to ever follow up with any questions. If your answer is depressing all of a sudden people follow up with
“Really? How come? What happened? Tell me about it.”
But don’t worry, they’re not asking these questions because they actually care about you, they just want to hear how bad your life is so they can feel better about themselves.
“I may have failed a few classes; my car broke down; I can’t find a job yet…” and the only thing going through the other person’s head as the nod in concern is: “Hah, I thought I had it bad? At least I’m not this guy.”
If you have good news, you have to trick people into caring. You have to say: “Well…a lot’s been going on (as you sigh and look towards the ground).” That way they’ll want to know more and you can tell them whatever good news you have to share!
No matter what though, it seems like you can’t win. People always tend to only care about the bad news. If you say “I sprained my ankle pretty badly the first week, but I found a great job, got my grades back and did really well—actually won $500 in the lottery, and my birthday is next week,” the only follow up question would be “So how’d you sprain your ankle?”