Recently, thanks to my new life outside of the world of retail, I have been blessed with the opportunity to spend time with my friends during semi-normal hours. For those of you who have worked in any service industry, you most definitely understand the dilemmas that accompany working crazy hours, eating dinner at 11 p.m. and being lucky enough to get a full eight hours of sleep before the grind must be repeated. However, now that I am no longer in retail, I have been finding every spare minute available to spend time with those closest to me. More specifically, I have been finding any spare minute I have to spend with my college girls and their ever growing families.
Almost ten years ago, I enrolled at Kent State University. Like many upcoming college freshman, I had no idea what to expect. Would I make friends? Would people like me? Would I perform well? How big will class sizes be? What if I fail? What it? What if? What if? Naturally, I was plagued with the fear of the unknown. However, after only one week of being a college freshman, living in an all-female dormitory, Olson Hall, I had finally made my first friend.
Her name was Whitney and she and I became almost inseparable after just a few trips to the gym and several lunch dates. The two of us bonded over boys, our love of Kent, how different we were from our introverted roommates, and beer. Well, I am lying. The two of us bonded over cheap liquor that we got the upper classman to buy for us, not beer. However, while Whitney and I discussed the boys we were dating, our love for Kent and our hatred for general education courses, we were doing something much more important than just bonding, we were doing one of the scariest things any 17 year old can do: we were growing up and we were doing it together.
Whitney and I had literally done almost everything together. We would go out on the weekends to random parties, dancing with people we had never met. She and I would have study sessions and watch Laguna Beach together. We would walk to CVS on Saturday mornings to buy hair dye to color my hair. We would then sit on the floor at the store and read magazines as we attempted to rid ourselves from the alcohol we drank the night before. Whitney and I would walk to class and share stories about our families with each other. She and I had been two strangers who were very clearly destined to meet. I needed her to keep me calm and rational because I can be a crazy person. And she needed me to teach her how to let her hair down every once in a while. Our friendship was blossoming and in no time, we were finally confident enough to start making friends with other people besides each other.
The first friend who Whitney and I really responded well to was Megan. She lived on our floor, but was much more reserved than Whitney and I. Like me, Megan also had a boyfriend who she, at the time, loved deeply and spent many hours with. Megan and I naturally and very quickly bonded over the men in our lives. The two of us would share stories about how dumb these guys were, but how odd it was that we could be equally smitten with them. Whitney, Megan and I began getting dinner together almost nightly at Eastway, which was located on Kent’s campus. Our meals typically consisted of the ever healthy pizza, side salad, and Moose Tracks ice cream. When we weren’t going out to dinner, Megan and I would spend our time crying over math homework and vigilantly debating which major would best suit our talents.
It was around the second semester of my freshman year that I had finally decided on a major, but was not prepared to declare. Megan had just switched her major from Teaching to Hospitality Management and the always dependable Whitney had a very clear vision of what her future as an educator looked like. After the three of us returned from Holiday Break, prepared to take on our second semester and challenge ourselves within our fields of study, we had a new friend making the rounds thanks to Whitney.
While Whitney was taking one of the horrific general education courses required by most universities, she met Katie. The two of them, understandably, became very fast friends as they both were very nice and likeable people. I will never forget the first time Katie and I hung out alone before Whitney and Megan were done with their classes for the day.
Naturally, Katie and I spent our first real occurrence together on Saint Patrick’s Day in 2006. The two of us were waiting for the other girls in my dorm, as my roommate had previously been kicked out of Kent State, so we had full range of motion in my room. The two of us drank green shots, which I threw up in no time. We laughed about guys, talked about her past relationships, and our friendship had officially begun. That night all four of us girls spent the evening drinking, laughing, joking, flirting with boys, playing flip cup, and most importantly, we spent that night forging friendships and making memories.
Almost ten years ago to the day, I met three girls who I was blessed enough to have accept me into their lives. Together the four of us were clueless about our futures. We were naive enough to trust men who did not deserve our trust. We were just four broke girls who worked part time jobs, just to go shopping with each other on the weekends and eat way too much Chipotle. The four of us girls were people who were terrified of not making friends while putting ourselves outside of our comfort zones. The four of us were just that, we were girls, and ten years later we have transitioned into women.
Those four years away at Kent State University, with my four closest girlfriends, changed all of us from young girls into smart forward thinking women. I am confident that if it was not for meeting Whitney my first week in school, creating a friendship with Megan knee deep into first semester and spending time with Katie on Saint Patrick’s Day, that I would not be who I am today. The four of us entered school as strangers, diving into the fear of the unknown, but we left that school forever changing each other’s lives as confident young women.
To my college girls, there are no words to tell you how you have each impacted and shaped my life for the better. The three of you have molded me, my ideas, and who I am as person. I do not get to see any of you, or your families, as often as I would like. But, watching each of you grow with your families always makes me reflect on our weird little college family and how much those four years in college, living together, has always meant to me. Living with you girls and transitioning from a young girl into woman has been one of the most exciting, rewarding and truly embarrassing times of my life, but I wouldn’t change a single laugh, tear, or hug for anything in this World.
(As a side note, when I discuss embarrassing college moments with my friends, I am basically referring to the following: I have peed in someone’s bed on more than one occasion. I have made out with random dudes while totally intoxicated. I dressed like a total prostitute on Halloween. I lost my shoes and had to walk home barefoot the day after Cinco de Mayo. One time, I got so inebriated that I locked my friends out of my apartment…they had to crawl in via the window. Freshman year, I almost got arrested after drunkenly crying my eyes out after a break-up. And, my personal favorite…I passed out in the elevator as it went up and down because I was also so drunk that I did not realize I had locked myself inside of it, and then left my dorm keys in the elevator, which resulted in having to embarrassingly retrieve them the next day from the front office. Cheers to those embarrassing moments, with my awesome girls who were there to laugh at me and remained my friends after making bad choices–here is to growing up!)