I made the front page of my college newspaper within 1 week of stepping foot on campus. I went to a very small, liberal arts college in Nebraska. The Dean of Admissions was an old camp counselor of mine and agreed to overlook the whole high school dropout thing if I promised to buckle down and actually be a student. I agreed and off to college I went.

The campus was beautiful. The people were so nice. And they had no idea what to do with me when I got there. I arrived in this small Midwestern town with my radio blaring and my car completely covered in bumper stickers in an array of colorful proclamations. I was tattooed, pierced, cussed like a sailor, was a vegetarian and my attire was the furthest thing from conventional that you could imagine.

I was approached before the end of freshman orientation by a writer for the newspaper asking if he could do a story on me. I was completely flabbergasted. Me? Why? I wasn’t interesting. In fact the big city I had just come from had all but rendered me invisible in my absolute plainness. He wanted to know why I had picked this college, how many tattoos I had, how many piercings I had, oh and do I know what I’m going to major in? It was actually pretty funny after I got over the embarrassment.

And it sort of set the tone for my tenure there. I spent four years trying to figure out where I fit. I made some amazing friends, most of which I still keep in touch with. I learned more than I ever would have thought would fit in my brain. I worked my ass off. I played hard. I explored and fell in love with the Midwest. I learned to be brave in whole new ways.

But even at the end of my time there, the majority of the people still didn’t know what to do with me. Still gawked at my brazen mouth and opinions. I stood out on my graduation day just as starkly as I did on my orientation day. It was a glorious and lonely distinction.

No comments: