There are very few similarities between high school and college. And up until the past week, I couldn't name any. However, now that April is finally here and slowly, very slowly, bringing signs of spring along with it, it has become clear to me that some things just never get old, especially spring. From this springing of spring, I am learning that being in college is not synonymous with being an adult. And being an adult is not synonymous with being boring.
As the sun streams through afternoon classes and the birds chirp noisily over lecturers' voices, the great outdoors begin to call. It is a call that has been silent for the past six months. It draws our ears and eyes from our studies and fixes them upon the fresh air that is finally returning after ages in hiding. I never thought that I would experience that childhood feeling again, that longing to just play outside. But, sure enough, it has returned. And now, as I settle down to study for my midterms, I find it more difficult than ever to block out the voices calling me to drop everything and enjoy the start of spring. It seems that, no matter how much I genuinely enjoy my classes, there is no place I would rather be than sprawled out on the president's lawn working on my tan.
Even though, as college students, we are expected to be mature, independent adults who can handle ourselves. Often, we can't. And just because I now live without my parents, separated from them by multiple states, I did not automatically become a self-restrained adult. I'm still a kid and I still love being outside in the spring. If anything, I now have a greater appreciate for spring having just suffered one of the worst winters of my life -- thanks, New England -- and I simply cannot hold back my desire to stow away all of my winter clothes, tear my down coat to shreds and wear nothing but sundresses for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, it is not quite warm enough for that yet, but a girl can dream.
It is humorous to watch mature young adults regress so quickly into awe-stricken children, fidgeting in class on a warm day and ditching the library for a shady patch of grass on the quad as soon as the weather bobs above 50 degrees. We can't help it, I suppose. College is an important time for maturing, learning about the world, and finding our place in it; but, it is impossible to be maturing and learning all the time. Sometimes, we must let loose and appreciate the insignificant, unremarkable details that make these years the best ones of our lives. And that includes preemptively wearing a pair of shorts and a tee shirt in the first week of April -- with the trees still completely bare and the ground frozen -- simply because we want to.
It is cliché to say that college is a threshold, that it is the thick line that carries children into adulthood, but it really is. The co-mingling of youth and maturity is ever-present. One minute, students are flocking to the library to cram for a midterm and the next minute, we are flocking to a frat house wearing a ridiculous, pseudo-Halloween costume. One minute, we are focusing on an important lecture and the next minute, we are running around campus, barelegged and blissful in the heat (overstatement) of the spring sun.
I am not proud of the hours I spent reorganizing my closet, shoving the winter clothes to the back and pulling my glorious spring clothing to the front, but I'm certainly not ashamed either. I have begun to realize that college is not supposed to turn me into an adult, taking away from me the childlike sense of joy over the small things or minimizing my immature sense of humor. Instead, its purpose is to help me fuse the fundamental qualities of my childhood with the fundamental qualities of a successful future. Just because I now live on my own and am responsible for myself does not mean that I am also no longer amazed by the transformation of winter into spring. It is a relief to realize that even grown-ups never really grow up.