Baby Bear No More

Freshman year: the first installment of a 4-book series. Francie, our dynamic young hero, sets off on an epic character arc through all-nighters and a cappella auditions, Plato’s Republic and frat parties to arrive at the other end of the metaphorical tunnel and see the light of summer. She’s undergone a change, she’s learned some lessons, she’s an older and wiser person. But honestly, that can be said of any year, any second, any period of time. So what made freshman year at WashU special?

The unexpected. The things I didn’t know I would be doing until I got up and did them. I thought about making this post a list of things I thought I would never do but did this year, but quickly realized the list would be long enough to break the internet. I can’t say that I’ve been bungee jumping or climbed the Himalayas or, I dunno, hooked up with Matt Bomer or something, but I’ve had some very special (dare I say life-changing?) experiences.

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I had a gooey butter bar for the first time. I attended Loufest. I fell deeply in crush with a guy I met and then fell out of it. I casually walked into a K-pop dance audition and fell headfirst into the endless black hole that is Korean pop culture. I bought my first crop top. I learned how to bachata. I got comfortable farting in front of my roommate. I fell in love with tortilla chips and salsa. I became an ecofeminist. I got Melanie Martinez to sign my McDonald’s receipt. I did my laundry.

As always, the most life-changing factors of all are the humans I’ve interacted with. All these amazing, interesting people I’ve met and all these lifelong friends I’ve made. Having heard so many roommate horror stories, I was so grateful I was able to survive mine – we only steal each other’s food and call each other “bitch” maybe five times a day. Just kidding, “Dan,” you are honestly one of the only people I could’ve gotten so comfortable with so quickly. All the (super-talented) (sexy) (nice af) friends I made through the K-pop wormhole. All the wonderful classmates I had with all your low-key hilarious quirks and high-key interesting personalities. All the awkward Tinder correspondants. All the people that I maybe talked to once but (you know what?) are still part of the WashU community and are still part of the fam. Yes even you, annoying kid who laughs too much at the professor’s jokes in MGT 100, you have touched my life in some small way and made my first year unique. I wish I could give a witty, poignant ten-page tribute to each person I met, but that would just take away the time I have to study for finals and we wouldn’t want to do that… For now, I’ll just grant you my friendship/acquaintanceship and leave it at that.

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You know, it’s a tough crowd here at WashU. Everyone seems so much smarter, so much prettier, so much more evolved than you are. It’s hard to keep your head above the water sometimes when there are so many big fish in the pond and you kinda feel like a plankton. But hey, it’s just the first book. Harry Potter didn’t defeat Voldemort in the first 223 pages. I’m still going through that character arc and I’m still just trying to figure out who I am and what I want to do. And I realize I will still be doing that after I graduate college and (cross my fingers) get a job. So for now, I’m just working on soaking it all in – the laughter, the pain, the small glories and the broken bones, the existential crises, the tipsy nights, the failed midterms – all of it.

From this messy rollercoaster of freshman year moments, when was the moment I stopped being a baby (WashU) Bear? Maybe it was when I took my first sip of alcohol or when I let go of the high school memories weighing me down or when I finally figured out where Ridgley Hall is (just this week). All I know is that I’m not the young, naive incoming freshman that I was in August 2015. I’m still young and naive, but not as much as before – a small piece of my youth is lost. I’ve finally moved on from being baby bear. Welcome to Sophomore Year: Puberty Bear. xx

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