Nothing But Nostalgia

Six years ago, I started my freshman year at BYU.

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That was me. Not one of the statues. Not the red-haired girl on the left. But the wide-eyed, innocent youth on the right–so optimistic, so eager to prove himself in the real world.

Fast-forward four years of school, two years in the Philippines, a summer in the UK, five different apartments, seven sets of roommates, nine finals weeks, three jobs, forty-six blog posts, and countless slices of pizza, I find myself at the opposite end of my college experience.

Sometimes it feels like not much has changed since I started at BYU six years ago. In many ways, I guess I’m still that same wide-eyed, innocent freshman who liked to pretend that statues were real.

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But in many more ways, that wide-eyed, innocent freshman has died, never to live again. My eyes are now narrowed into slits of distrust, wary of the world around me and the people who occupy that world.

Nah, I’m kidding. I just wanted to be dramatic. The point is that a lot has happened since that first day of college back in 2008. Now, my entire college experience nothing but a memory, I can’t help but feel sentimental.

When I first started college, BYU seemed like such a magical place–like Hogwarts, only with less booze. But when classes like Transfiguration, Charms, and Defense Against the Dark Arts were sacrificed in favor of classes like American Heritage, biology, and psychology, it didn’t take me long to realize that BYU is not such a magical place after all.

Magical or not, however, BYU has been my home away from home for four out of the past six years, though it felt like home more at certain times than it did at others. College was a time of constant change, and each new semester was like a new book of the same series, a series called Matthew Does College or something more creative that I can’t think of right now. And as is the case with all book series, some books were more well-written than others. Some books had me up all night, wanting to see what came next. Other books found me reading out of sheer obligation, dredging through each chapter and looking forward to the final pages.

My experiences at BYU spanned what I believe to be the entire spectrum of the typical college experience… again, minus the booze.

College is about taking the first baby steps into the real world, which is exactly what I have done in the past six years. So despite the advice of TLC, I did go chasing waterfalls, and I did not stick to the rivers and the lakes I was used to.

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People might assume that, just because I went to a private church college, my college experience was sheltered and uneventful. Those people would be right.

Nevertheless, my college experience, unlike the BYU population, was diverse. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I both laughed and cried, both struggled and triumphed. I reaped the benefits of hard work and suffered the consequences of procrastination. I made decisions that will shape the rest of my life, for good or for bad.

Yes, I made mistakes–mistakes that I can never take back. Mistakes that I will always regret.

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Above is photographic evidence of a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life. That poor grass. How could I have been such a monster???

And I can’t help but ask myself, why does everyone make so many mistakes in their college years? In my opinion, it’s because college is this whole awkward phase where we wanted to expand our horizons or something philosophical like that. I know such has been the case in my life. For example, I once went skydiving… off the roof of my apartment… in a dream. Not that impressive I guess.

I didn’t do everything I wanted to do during college. I never visited the hot springs down in Spanish Fork. I never walked up to a random person and greeted them like I had known them my whole life, hugging them and saying, “I haven’t seen you in forever!”

Nevertheless, I had my fair share of new experiences. I scuba dived myself into a bloody nose, ice skated my way into a broken heart, and roller skated my way into an injured leg.

And as I look back at my time in college, a number of images flash through my mind, images that remind me just how… unique… my college experience has been.

I see myself buried in a pile of leaves.

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I see myself swimming in a sea of red jello… because I’m pretty sure that jello is the official Utah state food.

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I see my vision being obscured in a cloud of colors, chalk dust that turned my shower water a nasty shade of purple.

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I see all the people I met throughout the years, people I couldn’t imagine my life without.

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I see my first set of roommates, a group of the most different personalities you could possibly imagine. And yet, somehow, we (kind of) learned how to get along.

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I see my last set of roommates, who also got along even though (or perhaps because) we hardly ever saw each other, due to our conflicting schedules. Only we were able to gather together one final time at the end of the semester, united because three of us had a 7 a.m. final, and the other one was just crazy enough to be awake at such an ungodly hour.

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I see myself becoming part of a scooter gang. . .

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Because apparently that’s a thing.

I remember making this gem of a music video.

I see everything from fake engagements. . .

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. . .to actual weddings.

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Everything from my first day. . .

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. . .to graduation day.

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Moments when I laughed so hard that I cried.

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Moments when I cried so hard that I just had to laugh.

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I traveled the world and found myself in the process.

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But I never lost touch with my roots.

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I know that all those memories are just that… memories. Nothing more, nothing less. That time of my life is over. At times that realization makes me very happy, at others a little sad. But either way, it is time to move on.

And even though I’m not quite sure where life is going to take me now. . .

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. . .I do know that life is taking me someplace new. Everything has changed. In the blink of an eye, I have gone from being a poor college student to being just plain poor. So don’t tell me I haven’t evolved!

As I begin this new phase of my life, I feel like it’s time to leave certain things behind. Preferably, I would leave behind my insecurities, my weaknesses, my emotional baggage. But since that is easier said than done, I have decided to start by leaving behind this blog. That’s right, this is the last post I am ever going to do under this blog domain. Call me dramatic if you must, but every post in this blog has been connected to my college experience. Now that my college experience is over, I feel like it is time to end this blog as well.

I realize what this means. It means that the number of people who read my blog will plummet from three to zero, a drastic change. But anyone who is interested in still following my story can direct themselves here. Granted, I haven’t written anything in my new blog yet, but new posts are forthcoming.

Thanks to all those who have taken the time to read my musings, from my most popular musings to the musings that were much less popular (there were too many to link to just one). I hope you have enjoyed this journey as much as I have.

And now, I bid you farewell in the most appropriate, dignified way I can think of:

Bye, see ya! Wouldn’t wanna be ya!

And I mean that.

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Thou Shalt Not Judge

Last week’s post was about wanting other people to accept me for who I am. This week’s post, in contrast, is about accepting other people for who they are.

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.–Luke 6:37

Let’s start with a little activity, shall we? Below are some images of people who could easily be described as being “different.” Think to yourself the first thing that pops into your mind when you see the people in these images.

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It is natural to make snap judgments, especially about the people/creatures in the above images. But that doesn’t mean we have to cling onto those judgments. Because we don’t know the stories behind what happened in the above pictures… well, except for Ursula. But when it comes to Ursula, we must resist the temptation to assume that all human octopuses (octopi?) are evil creatures that steal the voices of innocent mermaids!

My message for today is that we must strive to accept people regardless of their mistakes. We must strive to accept everyone. That’s right, everyone:

  • Smokers
  • Drug/Sex addicts
  • Raging alcoholics
  • That person who gave you the stink-eye at the bus stop
  • The friend who wronged you seven years ago…

Accept people for who they are and what they feel… that includes every aspect of who they are and what they feel. I was going to include gay people in the above list, but then I thought… that list consists of people who have done something wrong or hurtful. And I don’t believe that’s the case with homosexuality.

Just like everyone else, gay people might make mistakes, but the fact that they are gay is not the mistake. Why do we feel the need to judge people for what they feel?

Our good God in heaven has created humans to be beautiful creatures: both male and female. Or, if you believe that we evolved from apes, that’s cool too. Either way, the fact is this: people are hot. Anyone who thinks otherwise can answer to Katniss and Gale of The Hunger Games.

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How DARE you suggest that one of us is not attractive. Sluts!

Even though I’m straight, I can appreciate the beauty of both genders–perhaps because I myself am so attractive! If I were to see myself walking down the street, I would be quite intrigued! I’m kidding, of course… I mostly wanted to confirm what everybody has probably concluded from reading my blog: despite my insecurities, I can be quite vain. Don’t judge me!

Anyway, back to the topic of homosexuality. Some people believe it’s a choice. I myself used to believe that as well. But every gay person I’ve talked to would give anything to be straight. I mean, why would you choose to be mocked, judged, ridiculed, ostracized, etc.? That doesn’t even make sense, you guys! Let’s be honest, the straight life is so much easier. Nobody will judge you for being attracted to the opposite sex.  And sure, there are some gay people who say they would not change a thing about themselves and claim they would never want to be straight. But those people don’t deserve to be judged either. How dare people accept themselves for who they are, after what has probably been a lifetime of feeling bad about themselves because the world tells them they should? What monsters…said nobody ever.

PLUS, here’s the thing. So a person is gay, right? Who a person is attracted to doesn’t define who that person actually is. A gay person could be the kindest, most loving, most hilarious, greatest person you’d ever meet. Focus on those aspects of his or her personality, not on what sex they are attracted  to.

If a gay person is mean, by all means, keep your distance from that person. Just as long as you keep your distance from all straight mean people as well. Because mean people are the worst! And meanness is something that affects you in a negative way. Homosexuality is not.

What, do you think if you befriend a gay person that you will become gay too? It’s not a contagious disease! That’s not a thing! Guys, there is no reason to treat gay people any differently than you would treat anyone else. They have experienced many of the same things as everyone else has… they have gone to school, they have had both good memories and bad, they have loved, they have been hurt. And in a lot of cases, they are a lot more compassionate because they have had to deal with a lot more pain.

Gay people, as well as anyone that possesses characteristics that the world sees as being “abnormal,” deserve to be loved just as much as anyone else. In fact, I might go as far as to say they deserve love more than other people. It is a heavy burden they have to bear, and they need all the love and support they can get in order to feel wanted in this narrow-minded world.

You might wonder why I’m even writing about this post. Well, this video explains part of the reason:

No one should have to feel that they need to end their lives. And no one should say such a callous and disgusting thing as, “(A gay person) was going to go to hell anyway, so he was just speeding up the process (by committing suicide).” NO! Unacceptable. I refuse to believe that anyone who claims to be a good person could say that with a good conscience. Just… no.

You may not necessarily support the way someone lives their life, but here’s the thing: it’s their life. So let them live it! And just worry about your own life in the meantime. We need to stop trying to make everyone else into alternate versions of ourselves. That has never been successful and it never should be. To think everyone needs to think exactly like you is very Hitler-esque, in my opinion. That’s right, I said it!

I’m sorry if I’m getting too bold by saying all this… but I’m not really that sorry. It’s just, I’m so sick of people treating others badly for such dumb reasons. Whenever I hear all these narrow-minded and hurtful comments, I feel… I just… I just want to…

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Sigh

We shouldn’t be concerned about whether a person is asexual, heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, trisexual (oh, wait…) Sexual preference does not make the person.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect when it comes to accepting everyone. I tend to be narrow-minded toward narrow-mindedness. Perhaps I should be more accepting of bigotry and self-righteousness? I don’t know, is that a thing?

I know this post has been mostly about not judging people based on sexual attraction, but it can also apply to a number of other characteristics as well. The important thing is to remember that people should not be categorized by who they like or the mistakes they make, but instead by the life they are trying to lead as well as the way they treat others.

The thing that really sucks about this is that I know writing these things won’t make much of a difference. But I’m tired of the most wonderful people feeling bad about themselves because of sexual attraction, past mistakes, shortcomings, etc. At least now I can say I’m doing my part to battle the idiotic bigotry that goes on in this world.

Can you?!

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