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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The Mystery of Me (As Explained by Daria Morgendorffer)

On more than one occasion, people have expressed interest in knowing what goes on in my mind, seeing as I am so stubbornly silent and difficult to crack. The next time somebody expresses such an interest, I will just tell them to watch all five seasons of Daria (available for instant streaming on Amazon Prime!). Therein lies the answer to the mystery that is Matthew Gilliland.

Is there a character on television more real than Daria Morgendorffer?

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Full of sass but not lacking in class, Daria has a sharp tongue that cuts more effectively than any knife.

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But she never forgets what’s really important in life.

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Her snarky remarks and cynical attitude get her through the day, even though deep down she really does care what people think.

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So she covers her emotions with her exaggerated monotone voice and relentless pessimism.

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Even though her best friend, Jane, claims that Daria is not depressed but instead “just realistic,” it is clear that Daria’s outlook on life is anything but happy-go-lucky.

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In fact, our dear Daria seems to believe that life is inherently bad, without any hope of getting better.

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And she relentlessly claims that everybody else is to blame.

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Because she feels that other people are just inherently unreliable.

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But in one episode, Daria admits that her nonchalant attitude is just a mask for her sensitivity. She is just scared of getting hurt, so she pretends that nothing matters to her.

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Though I have explored fictional alter egos in the past, what does it say about me when the character I relate to most of all is a high school girl with thick glasses and an ill-repressed inferiority complex?

Because no matter how I look at it, there’s no escaping the truth: I am Daria Morgendorffer.

If you don’t believe me, here’s a picture of me from when I was in sixth grade, alongside a picture of Miss Morgendorffer.

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Isn’t the resemblance uncanny?

Look, I know what you’re thinking. There is no way that I’m actually Daria because the glasses I’m wearing in the picture are actually made of pipe cleaners!

But it’s not just about the looks; the true resemblance lies in our attitudes. I, like Daria, react to the world with bitterness and cynicism. This strategy allows me to pretend that I hate other people, even though the problem really is that I care too much. Unfortunately, my mind likes to convince me that everybody hates me–or, at best, that everybody is indifferent to my existence. And no matter what people say or do to prove otherwise, it is never enough.

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My mind instead shines the spotlight on the tiniest, most insignificant bit of evidence that somebody doesn’t care about me. As I focus on this evidence, I am overcome with a dark, impenetrable sadness. I’m sad that a person doesn’t love me as much as I love them. And even worse is the idea that someone once had a great deal of love for me, but that love has since faded into apathy. They say it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. That may be true. But in my experience, I would rather never be loved than have to deal with the pain that comes when a person stops caring about you.

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These thoughts evolve into a crippling anxiety–which may work for Daria, but it most certainly has not worked for me.

Because as much as I say I just don’t need other people…

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The truth is that I just fear how much they can hurt me.

I don’t know what you would call these thoughts and feelings–anxiety? Depression? Just my own specialized way of dealing with the pains of this world? Whatever it is, it has made me into a person I don’t recognize, a person I don’t want to be: possessive, needy, paranoid, destructive to myself and destructive to others.

It has made me feel isolated from everyone else.

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This isolation spreads to all aspects of my life. It feels like everybody else is so much more successful in life than I am. It feels like everybody else is in fast-forward while I remain in slow motion.

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Honestly, it sometimes makes it difficult for me to get up in the morning. Because life is just so much less complicated when I stay in bed.

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I hope these feelings are not permanent. I hope these feelings are just a product of the stress and instability of college life. I hope that, if these feelings continue, I will find a way to manage them more effectively. I want to be happy, despite my brain’s constant attempts to keep me from happiness.

It’s not that I’m miserable all the time. Quite the contrary, I can find happiness every day if I just look for it. But EXCUSE ME if I’m not just bustling with energy every time you see me. And SORRY if I often come off as a bit aloof. Maybe at some point I can change that about myself, but for now, that is how I deal with life. And it is probably how I will continue to deal with life until people prove to me again that they are worth trusting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G-Day

With my college graduation just over a month away,  I can’t help but have mixed feelings.

Today I would like to share those feelings, not so much in words (though I will use some of those), but with the help of some GIFs.

Part of me can barely contain the excitement

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Let’s face it, college is hard. Even though I chose the easiest major I could possibly think of (English language and linguistics), I am still ready to be done with homework, projects, and tests.

I want to be done with BYU

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As much as I love BYU on principle (mainly for its cheap tuition), spend too much time in the same place and you’re bound to harbor harsh feelings toward it eventually. I feel like it’s time for a change of scenery, even if I am technically still going to live close to BYU (but at least I won’t be a student there!)

My immediate reaction at the thought of being done:

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I know I used this exact GIF last week, but this particular GIF is just too brilliant to be under-used. In fact…

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OK, I’m done.

The point is, I get really excited about the thought of being DONE with school. The idea of just working full-time and then having the rest of the time to myself??? It’s almost too good to be true.

Too bad people rain on my parade by telling me how difficult life can be after college.

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Yet no matter what other people say, I won’t let them ruin my dreams of a peaceful post-college existence.

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But then people ask me what I plan on doing after I graduate, and I’m all…

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That’s when it hits me. I have no idea where my life is headed after this.

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And I realize that picking the easiest major might not have been the best option after all.

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No matter what I try, I will inevitably stumble and fall at one point or another.

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Then people tell me to date more, asking me when I’ll just settle down and get married. To which I only have one reaction.

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Let’s just worry about graduation for now, shall we?