TAYLOR: Ditch your high school sweetheart

Okay, freshmen, listen up to the croaky old voice of reason: You need to break free of your long-distance relationship.

It’s been four weeks. You’re not using your map to get around campus anymore. By now, you know your way to every building except TD, which with luck you’ll discover sometime during your sophomore year. You’ve seen what this campus has to offer. I’m not saying it’s fantastic, but admit it — you dig a guy in a cable sweater.

Also, those ROTC guys! Holy cow!

But this isn’t about comparing options, or the crew cuts and biceps of boys who look deceptively old but are — please remind me — barely 19. I have no doubt as to the depth and authenticity of your high school relationship. I’m not trying to tell you you aren’t in love with her. I’m not even arguing that, if someone doesn’t put some sense into you, you won’t make this relationship last until your sophomore year. I’ve seen plenty drag on even longer.

This isn’t about you and Whatshername. It’s about you and Yale. This is about how you’re spending your evenings, your nights, your spare thoughts and moments — how, slowly and subtly and without your noticing it, your significant other is dulling your social impulse, making you complacent.

You should come to Yale starving — for friendship, for experience, for (ahem) stimulation. You should spend this semester glutting yourself on overcommitment — joining three bands, doing four shows, writing columns about topics you know nothing about. Your free time should be stretched between lunch dates and dinner dates and coffee dates, with late night roommate bonding and park bench conversations that defy convention and New Haven’s disgusting weather, with ill-advised public make outs, but not outside my entryway, please God, not there.

Your free time should not involve constant texting, two-hour Skype calls, or weekend trips to some inferior campus.

I’m not saying you should go for the 12-college challenge. I’m just saying that freshman year is your one and only shot to be a complete idiot and not regret it for the rest of your college career. There is nothing you can do, no commitment you can make (and break) and nowhere you can wake up for which you will be faulted a year from now.

Trust me: freshman year means no shame. To the contrary — you will cherish your poor choices. You will delight to see that hook-up — whom you will not acknowledge — eating in your dining hall. You will laugh to remember his horrendous misuse of tongue. Savor your misfortunes — the awful screw dates, the hapless hook-ups, the gay guys you’ll continue, hopelessly, to fall for. Learn from them. Grow from them.

Because (in all paltry seriousness) this is the time when you should be discovering yourself. There are sides of you that you didn’t know existed. There are things you love — people you could love — that you haven’t yet seen or heard or done. You need the freedom to grow out of the person you were when you entered this relationship.

Most of my friends regret staying with their high school sweethearts. They wasted time. Things grew sour. They lost potential friends. They lost a best friend.

You might be the exception. You might be the one person I know who is still with his high school girlfriend. You might have already met your soulmate. There’s a chance, even, that I am totally wrong, that this relationship is a good thing. Maybe you’re balancing this the right way. Maybe that person is just what you need right now. Maybe he’s not tying you down but pushing you forward.

Maybe, but probably not.

Consider, finally, serendipity — that amor omnia vinct, that love will guide you to the right person in the end, even if it’s back to where you started. Consider letting yourself go; consider giving yourself to Yale; consider making the very most of this place and the four fleeting years you have here.

Consider that you, and that cute girl from your econ section, will thank me later.

Michelle Taylor is a senior in Davenport College. Contact her at michelle.taylor@yale.edu.

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