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CASUALTIES OF THE WAR ON COLLEGE A Collection of Confessions and Lessons Learned the Hard Way
CASUALTIES OF THE WAR ON COLLEGE: A COLLECTION OF CONFESSIONS AND LESSONS LEARNED THE HARD WAY
PUBLISHED BY INK’D A division of INKprint Publishing Unless otherwise indicated by provided statistics all information in this book is the opinion of the author alone. Italics in provided statistics reflect the author’s added emphasis. Details in some anecdotes and stories have been changed to protect the identities and privacies of all persons involved.
Copyright © 2013 by Michael Major All rights reserved. No part of this book may be produced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission of writing from the publisher, save for brief quotations in printed reviews. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Major, Mike Casualties of the War on College: a collection of confessions and lessons learned the hard way / by Mike Major. –1st Ed. p. cm. 1. College Students –social—relationships. 2. Life –goals— success—perspective/attitude—personal—suicide. I. Title
Printed in the United States 2013
For any college student anywhere who has experienced any kind of struggle, I wrote this book for you.
CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGMENTS UNDERSTAND An Introduction to the Book An Introduction to the Truth
PART 1: THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING ONCE YOU KNOW, THERE IS NO GOING BACK
entries on guys and gals entry one.…………....sex & economics entry two.…………....keep better secrets entry three.…………..are all guys the same or do you prefer the same type of guys entry four.…………...the epidemic of envy entry five.……………london’s bridges BONUS ENTRY.…..….[secrets in small doses: confessions from me n ]
entry six..…………….brave new world entry seven..………...rewriting unwritten rules entry eight…………...men and our issues entry nine.…………...the blame game entry ten……………..she brings thunder BONUS ENTRY………[secretes in small doses: confessions from women ]
a note to college students who’ve considered suicide: part one
PART 2: THERE ARE TWO I’S IN RELAT(I)ONSH(I)P DO YOU GET IT?
entries for college students in or pursuing relationships entry eleven……………..love. same game, different rules entry twelve………….everyone has a past, even you entry thirteen…………reciprocity, I think not entry fourteen………..when it’s over, it’s over BONUS ENTRY…….[secrets in small doses: confessions from college students in or pursuing relationships)
PART 3: THIS IS NOT A DRESS REHEARSAL THIS IS IT! entries for college students in the process of discovering themselves entry fifteen…………brick for brick, pound for pound entry sixteen………...ready or not here it comes entry seventeen……....not with your heart, but with your gut entry eighteen………..dream. achieve. dream bigger. entry nineteen………..get me to the greek entry twenty………....time is money. no, really. BONUS ENTRY…...[secrets in small doses: confessions from college students in the process of finding themselves) [INTERLUDE]
a note to college students who’ve considered suicide: part two
PART 4: A LITTLE SOMETHING, SOMETHING WORDS TO KEEP IN YOUR POCKET
short entries for anyone willing to listen entry twenty-one…………….the process of sex entry twenty-two…………….take it or leave it entry twenty-three…………...warning: hazardous material inside entry twenty-four……………upset. angry. mad as hell. entry twenty-five……………mondays are major entry twenty-six……………..live it up entry twenty-seven…………..ramblings BONUS ENTRY……….......[25 things to reme mber ] [INTERLUDE]
a note to college students who’ve considered suicide: part three PASS IT ON Thank You
This book has been a long time coming; it has evolved over many years, people, experiences, conversations, tears, laughs, breakthroughs, struggles and lessons that had to be learned the hard way so that others wouldn’t have to make the same mistakes. If you were to strip this book down to its rawest form you’d see that the people I’ve encountered during my college career are what truly make this book possible. I am convinced more than ever that relationships are the most valuable assets that a person can ever dream to obtain. I’m fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to cross paths with such interesting people, each extraordinary in his or her own way, who’ve taught me to be bold, fearless, open, compassionate and sacrificial; all of which have become the backbone of this book. Credit must be given where credit is due. These people are beyond deserving. Regina “Queen” McCord-Fithian: Your constant love, support, insight and honesty to this day remain unmatched in my life. You’ve taught me that life isn’t about talents or achievements or the things you managed to collect, it’s about the people. While visiting your office one morning during my freshman year, broken and on the edge of surrender, you bestowed upon me some advice that completely changed my life – “Don’t sweat the small stuff”. This ix
remains one of the absolute best pieces of advice I’ve gotten. With experience and wisdom I’ve come to learn that in the grand scheme of things just about everything is “the small stuff”. I would not be the man I am today had it not been for your investment and influence in my life. You are truly uncommon. I love you. Also, I’m not sure if I would have made it through my first two years of college had it not been for your husband’s AMAZING cooking and colorful humor that only he and I ever seemed to think was funny. Say hello to the entire Fithian bunch for me! B.R.A.: Your support and loyalty means the world to me. There are so many great times that make up the mental scrapbook of my college experience; the times I’ve spent with you all are the highlights. You guys have taught me many of the lessons shared in this book. I love you all. Yes, even Stevie. When everything else fades, family remains. You all are my second family. Now, ask me if I’m ready! Mesha Ford: For your constant enthusiasm and belief in my talents, I thank you. Throw your M’s up! Because I like the way that sounds! James Brown, Jared Finch and Neal Alexander Page: D9 all the way! Mr. Brown your ability to be honest, sincere and completely authentic is extremely rare. You’ve got a superpower. Paige Reed: Thank you for helping me grow as a man. You are one of the biggest and best things that could have ever happen to me. I will always love you and have the utmost respect for our friendship. Just don’t’ invite me to the wedding! I’m kidding. You x
are a remarkable woman. Camea Osborn: Thank you for helping me grow as a person and a writer. You have established, for me, the standard of what a woman should be. I love you beyond beyond. It’s a poet’s world… womm! Dominique “Bae” Watford: Not only did you allow me to be me…you loved me for it. Your friendship is something that can never be replaced. Your presence in my life is proof that God exists. You are evidence. Thank you. Micara “Matlock” Holloway & Ashley “Spinelli” Caudle: There are few people in the world who just…get me. You will never know how grateful I am for your friendship and the nights surrendered on your sofa having a “just kicking it”. Tyrone “Burger” Allen: I’m sure there has never been and never will be a better roommate assignment in the history or future of higher education. Funny how things work out, isn’t it? You are easily one of the funniest people I have ever met. Thank you for your unconventional wisdom always coated in humor. Ashlee Sadler: You are a Godsend. There isn’t much I can say to describe the relationship we have. There aren’t many friendships as genuine and loving as the one you’ve provided me with. You’re the best! I’m so glad you’re reading this, Read! F.A.M.E.: Thank you to all who played a part in the fruition of the FAME (Fashion Art Music Expression) project; cast members to production team, my advisor, financers, tech crew and all the xi
spectators. Thank you, thank you, thank you! You are proof enough that anything I dream can be made into reality. To the cast members: your friendships, personalities and talents will not be easily forgotten. Graciela Roman: You are such an amazing woman, person, friend and writer. You are one of the most kindhearted people I’ve encountered. I’d like to believe some of the light you’ve shined on me has allowed me to shine light elsewhere. Huy Pham, Christopher Clifton, Gavin Rich, Kane Alejandro San Miguel: You guys will never know how much you’ve inspired me. I’m honored to have met you. You aren’t just great friends, you’re great men. Charlena, Keith & Keithy Kendrick: For taking me in and loving me at a time when I needed to be loved the most you’ve helped me become aware of my own capacity for love, compassion and selflessness. In many ways these things are what I consider to be the secrets to living a fulfilling life. Janell Tillman: You never ceased to support and encourage me. You never ceased to love me despite the kamikaze of life. You never ceased to keep me humbled yet reminded of my inner greatness. You never ceased to amaze me. You are a phenomenal woman and I am your biggest fan! I love you. Anyone who has shared with me their words, story, time, space – leant me their ears, their friendship and their love has contributed in some way to the fruition of this book. To know that you are reading this means the world to me. xii
All together these people have provided me with something priceless â€“an experience; a unique, life changing and perfectly purposed experience. It is for this that I am eternally grateful. Thank you.
Part One: An Introduction to the Book Part Two: An Introduction to the Truth
UNDERSTAND – PART ONE
Understand – Part One An Introduction to the Book COLLEGE IS A WAR ZONE. No matter how strong or in control you believe you are you’re going to find out, sooner than later, that you’re in for the fight of your life. College is the beginning of your great heroic story. Your dreams will be tested and some of them will even change. That’s okay. You will discover things about yourself that will make even your head spin. That’s okay too. College has a way of trying your resilience, of forcing you to realize who you really are and what you really want; and the pressure to emerge victorious is unyielding. Take my word for it, these are the years you will never forget. Every institution is its own unique warzone – but if there is one thing that holds true across the board it is that from the moment you step foot onto the battlefield you have to be prepared to fight. This book is your battle guide. It’s bold; it’s honest; it’s human. It is birthed from excitement, hurt, struggle, happiness, fear, joy, desperation, love, searching, finding and most of all accepting. This is a collection of confessions and lessons learned the hard way. These experiences and realizations were afforded to me during
UNDERSTAND – PART ONE
what’s proven to be some of the most influential years of my life. Now, with no shame in my game, I am giving them all to you. This book is the tell–all. It’s time to expose the truths that no one else wants to talk about. What you’re about to read is based on real life experiences, but not just my own; some I’ve shared with strangers, some I’ve shared with great friends and some I’ve shared with strangers who’ve become great friends with time. You’ll find that these stories are not coated in glitter or signed “happily ever after”. Life isn’t that forgiving. Still, the purpose in this is not for you to judge or ridicule others. This book is about discovering yourself in the mirror of these pages. It’s about understanding that no one is perfect and accepting that that’s okay. While many of us are trying to conquer the war on college a great deal of us become casualties; we hurt, we heal, we harden, we lose ourselves to find ourselves only to lose ourselves again. This is not a new phenomenon. Since the very first institution of higher education there have been students struggling to discover themselves, attempting to understand romance and love, striving to become better versions of themselves, trying to avoid drama (and some trying to stir it up), enduring the pressure of academics and ultimately fighting to survive college. This book isn’t just my reality or the reality of those involved, it’s yours as well. In that respect, if your intention in reading this is to criticize others or pacify your own mistakes, secrets and experiences – my advice to you is to set the book down and walk away. If you are still reading I should warn you– This book is no-holds-barred. 15
UNDERSTAND – PART ONE
It’s that uneasy you feel when you realize the heaviness in the air and the shifty eyes and the traveling whispers are all because of you. It’s that real. This book is the good, the bad, the ugly and the unspoken. While tasteful, the words are not sugared down to sound “more PG” or “commercial”. They are not glossed over in horribly hidden attempts to “not offend the weak-hearted”. By all means, if you find pieces of yourself between these lines you should take a moment to reflect. If you stumble across tidbits of your story you should take it personally. We’ve been told many times “the truth hurts”, right? This book is that truth. It indirectly authorizes you to be you. It allows you to relate, release, to be vulnerable and sometimes it even allows you to be broken; but hopefully it prompts you to move on and move up. This book is a rollercoaster; it moves. Somewhere along the ride you will empathize or sympathize - agree or disagree. You might feel the temptation to scream, shout, kick, curse or jump up and down. At some point you will feel the urge to celebrate or cry, sometimes both. You might even feel the pain of your own personal truth. The most important thing is that you feel...something. This book is for the men who haven’t quite mastered their super power; those who’ve lost their footing but still aspire to climb the mountain anyhow. This is for the women who can’t make out their name in the sky; those who are unaware that every woman sweats beneath her breasts and experiences those not so extraordinary days. This book is that dance you never perfected.
UNDERSTAND – PART ONE
The one that makes you feel free and most like yourself on Saturday nights when the dance floor is hot and dark and crowded… but every song is your song. This book is that dance. That dance is your life— And I hope that even when you feel awkward, stared at and worn out…you find the strength to dance anyhow. Enjoy.
Understand An Introduction to the Truth WE ARE ALL FLAWED. No matter how attractive, smart, talented, ambitious or fashionable you believe you are, you too are flawed. And believe it or not, that’s okay. Many of us have this expectation of perfection for ourselves and we don’t even realize it. We are so embarrassed of our mistakes and weaknesses that we sometimes create a wall between who we truly are and who we want people to think we are, as if the world will retract itself from us in shame. When it doesn’t, we do it ourselves. We carry so much insecurity around with us; buried at the bottom of our backpacks and pushed into the corners of our pockets like lint, we hide them hoping no one will ever stumble across our secrets. We fool ourselves into believing anything less than perfect is unacceptable, but being flawed is a gift; it allows us to accept ourselves, not despite our imperfections but because of them. Being flawed offers us the realization that we don’t have to worry ourselves to death about being perfect, only about being our best. You’ve made countless mistakes in your past and there are plenty more to come.
UNDERSTAND – PART TWO
It’s not about attempting to disprove this fact; it’s about finding freedom in it. Here’s one of those ugly truths that are extremely hard to swallow. Are you ready? Even at your best you will not be perfect. Take a moment to let it set in if you must. I hate to be the one to tell you but you’re going to miss an assignment, you’re going to tell a secret, you’re going to screw up a relationship, you’re going to piss off a friend, you’re going to completely space on an exam, and if you’re really lucky these things will be at the top of your “screw-up list” –trust me, it can get much worse. While this might seem discouraging to some, others will appreciate that it takes the grey filter off of life. The pressure is over. Also, understanding that we are not meant to be perfect shouldn’t just be the driving force behind accepting your faults but also accepting others in the face of theirs. We are more alike than we know…and certainly more than we’d like to admit. Sometimes we make mistakes and then expect (even welcome) retribution from life. Some of us create chaos and hardship for ourselves without knowing and some of us do it with absolute understanding. We are not meant to punish ourselves for the mistakes we’ve made; no matter how much we tell ourselves we deserve it. The repercussions of our decisions, whatever they may be, are punishment enough. Some of us spend days, weeks, months, even years wallowing in regret and shame of a mistake. Any way you turn, regardless of what you believe or what you put your faith into, it doesn’t add up; regret is unhealthy; ungodly; unearthly; unpleasing to the universe; it’s just not what the stars have in store for you. Accept responsibility and MOVE ON. Whatever it is, don’t let it ruin you. 19
UNDERSTAND – PART TWO
Despite what your parents, enemies, boss, ex-friend or parole officer would have you believe you are not the first nor are you the only person who has made a mistake. Tell the people who are constantly reminding you of the things you’ve done that you have not forgotten you’ve simply moved on. If they can’t move on from your mistakes invite them to move on from you. In some cases this infatuation with perfection causes us to be ungrateful. We want our girlfriends/boyfriends to be perfect. We’re ashamed of our families for not being perfect. We reconstruct and lift and tuck and starve our bodies in the name of perfection. Some of us have become so obsessed that we’re incapable of appreciating the really great things in our lives because we are too distracted with this horizon of perfection that can never truly be reached. Besides, perfect has no character. Have you ever noticed how insufferably ordinary the word perfect is – it’s so mechanic, so bland and devoid of emotion. It’s unequivocally boring? There is no creativity in perfect. No passion, no fire, no great heroic story. There is no adventure in plain old perfect. We sacrifice too much of ourselves trying to be the perfect student or child or athlete or boyfriend/girlfriend and so. We have to understand that we are not physically built for perfection. We are hardwired to need sleep, a steady and healthy diet and to feel emotion. We get upset, frustrated and sometimes we act instinctively. Other times we plot and plan and we still make mistakes; but that’s the beauty in being flawed, the adventure in being human. Life isn’t meant to be obsessed over, it’s meant to be lived, enjoyed and appreciated.
UNDERSTAND – PART TWO
We waste too much time searching for the perfect body, the perfect relationship or the perfect set of circumstances to be who we want to be. We can’t be ourselves and be perfect at the same time, it’s unnatural. If you are on a quest to be perfect you are simultaneously on a quest to self-destruction. Making a mistake does not make you a failure and a loss is not the end of the world. Attempting to ignore or deny your mistakes means you can’t be bigger and better because of them. Life is about balance. Some things you’ll get right, some things you’ll get completely wrong. The sooner you accept this truth, the sooner you’ll be able to accept yourself entirely and begin to like yourself more. Imagine that! Mistakes are what build our character. They are what help us develop compassion. Most importantly they are what make us human; and human beats perfect any day of the week. Now let that set in.
Par t 1: THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING ONCE YOU KNOW, THERE IS NO GOING BACK Entries on Guys and Gals
Chapter One Sex & Economics Gals: Lena We are living in an era saturated with the pursuit of sensory highs. Everything we touch, taste, smell, see and hear has to be bigger, better and louder than ever before. Have you noticed that? We are constantly searching for something explosive to stimulate our senses, and let’s face it –sex has become our primary avenue to feel. At the age of 20 Lena was a self-proclaimed sex addict……
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