There’s a date in February from almost 20 years ago, that my college roommate and I would only whisper about with “never again” always said along with it.
Because we did something really stupid that night.
No one got hurt and aside from
way too much possibly some underage drinking, no laws were broken.
But it was not a night either one of us wanted to repeat. It was mortifying.
I’m not being intentionally vague about the details because to be honest, I only have a few actual memories of that night, the rest a giant black hole that friends laughingly tried to fill us in on, until we begged them to please, for the love of our friendship and any delusions of dignity we might have left, to not tell us any more. We’d rather live in ignorance.
But, it’s not something that is all that uncommon for a college student to do, to have too much to drink and then be out where people can see them. And say stupid things and throw up publicly and I don’t know what else, but aside from the awful feeling the next morning and still feeling intoxicated when I stumbled into one of my midterms, it wasn’t anything overly scandalous. It was incredibly stupid and definitely not a moment to be proud of, but it wasn’t scandalous.
Not back then.
Not when it was just our group of friends who quickly got us off of our dry campus when they realized what was happening before we could get caught and get in trouble for having alcohol.
The same friends who made sure that we didn’t hurt ourselves or anyone else. Yeah, they basically babysat us.
Those friends got us safely back to our dorms when we’d recovered.
And one might have steadied me a bit in the hallway as I headed to my exam the next morning and he might have even snickered at me a little.
Really stupid choices we made that night? Absolutely. And embarrassing, too.
It was definitely not a shining moment, but it was just a mistake we made one night.
We did learn our lesson and there was never another night like that one.
End of story.
But I can’t help but think about how different that could have ended had that happened today.
A play-by-play on twitter of all the idiotic things we were saying.
Maybe even a few videos shared to vine or a longer one posted to youtube showing our stupidity.
An instagram of the awful way we had to have looked.
And because we were both normally rule-followers, adhering to our schools’ strict policies, classmates could have shared and reshared those, thinking how funny it was that we, of anyone, had acted like that.
And given our school’s very strict reputation (and sometimes snotty we’re- better-than-your-school attitude), friends at other schools could have taken great delight in sharing those images, tagged with our school name, getting us into trouble with the school.
Back in those days, if you were caught drinking and it was a quiet incident, you would go on probation. But if it were something that everyone on campus knew about, expulsion wasn’t unheard of.
Our names could easily be found linked to that night, making it appear that was our norm instead of one stupid fluke of a night. I’m sure that would have been super helpful in my job search back then. Isn’t that what schools look for in their teachers?
Maybe none of that would have happened, since after all, our friends did keep us out of trouble and even stopped talking about that night shortly after it happened because they realized how embarrassed we were about it. They were in fact good friends.
But it still just would have taken just one pic, snapped “in fun” to cause a huge spiral. And with how common it is now for us all to share so much on social media, it’s not unreasonable to think something from that night would have been shared.
I have to say that I’m glad that I grew up in the time when I could make that mistake, learn from it, and have that be the end. No one who wasn’t there could say anything about it. Even had there been gossip about it, it would have been their word against ours, with no viral photos or videos as evidence.
Kids can make stupid choices. Even the “good kids” can have their moments. We have to hope that what we’ve taught our kids will keep them from making huge mistakes, but kids push the limits, try things for themselves, and learn the hard way. I know my kids will have some sort of moment that they’ll realize later was a stupid thing to do. And I can only hope that they’ll be allowed to make that mistake without social media causing it to ruin their lives.
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