Leave college behavior to college students

MOST OF MY friends are graduating this semester, so over the last few months I have witnessed all the symptoms of senioritis. In our apartment, the television is constantly on, friends are always visiting, and the front hallway has become home to a growing collection of empty liquor bottles. Classes are skipped less regularly than parties are attended.

My roommate has occupied a nearly permanent position on his favorite chair in the living room; in fact, something feels amiss if I don’t see him in that chair each morning eating microwave waffles and watching “Saved by the Bell.”

But when do the parties stop? When do we settle down and become like the adults we knew growing up?

As a child, I never used to consider how I would live my life when I reached adulthood. I took it for granted that I would live the same straight-laced lifestyle that my parents and our family friends did. Having lived the college lifestyle, however, by which I mean some combination of partying, drinking and poor decision-making, I have seen the opposite end of the spectrum, and as far as I can tell, there are some people who continue living this way their entire lives.

At The Dirty Olive in north Fresno, you can see people who have never grown out of the college lifestyle, though they wear nicer clothes and certainly have more money to spend than the typical college student.

Looking at the college lifestyle with a critical eye, it seems to consist largely of intemperance, sloth and imprudence — which are fine for a time, I suppose. But we do have to grow up, and that means mastering our appetites, working hard, and learning to discern good decisions from bad. A friend of mine loves to point out that we should drink up, because after college, it’s considered alcoholism. There needs to be a cutoff point after which this sort of behavior feels inappropriate.

We also don’t seem to want very much from life. How else could we have a culture where grown men obsess about televisions and grown women about shoes? Few facets of American life disturb me more than the “great American boy-men” who still wear juvenile clothing, hang out in bars and spend money on toys.

One of my friends put it best when describing his experiences on a marijuana-inspired trip across the country: “I’m a kid at heart, but I have a driver’s license.”

That’s exactly the problem: we have the same little desires for pleasure that we had when we were children, but we also have more freedom and greater resources to pursue them.

So we have two problems: first, there is no clearly defined passage from childhood into adulthood, and second, there is a gross imbalance between the size of our desires and the size of our bank accounts.

I don’t want to waste time pointing my finger at the leaders in our community who contribute to these problems, though I think we should all carefully consider the moral implications of our civic and religious leaders’ words and actions. I also don’t know that I can point out specific things you can do in your daily life to fix these problems.

All I would suggest is this: start thinking about others. It seems the only thing that can transform boys into men and girls into women in our day is the responsibility of having a family.

Having a child to support forces people to think about someone besides themselves, and it certainly empties out the bank account enough to make them think about what is really valuable in life. We need to apply this same mentality to our civic and social life.

Don’t think of yourself as a cog in the machine or a rat in the big race; think of yourself as a human being among many other human beings, all of whom love as much and hurt as much as you.

A famous passage from Corinthians I reads: “When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.”

College has been great, but it is time to move on to new things, and we need to approach them with a new mentality in order to lead a morally responsible, fulfilling, and just plain better lives.

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