When I was in elementary school, the teachers always told us they were preparing us for middle school. In middle school, the teachers always stressed how important it was for us to be ready for high school, and spent large amounts of our curriculum making sure we would survive the land of lockers. When I got to high school, I thought the cycle was over. Honestly, I’m not sure we could have used the term “college readiness” more in four years, and if you did, you would have had to make one hell of an effort.
Our whole lives have been about preparing for the next step. We make sure that we have the necessary tools and survival skills for whatever path we cross next, with each step being a little more prevalent than the previous. We learn our rudimentary principles like sharing and communicating in kindergarten and work our way up to the big stuff like critical thinking and not sleeping in until 3 p.m. regardless of your 8 a.m. class. Some of us didn’t pick up on that as quickly as others.
So, where do we learn about dating? Statistically, we will be in a relationship with someone for most of our life. When do we learn those skills? I would have killed for a class in high school that taught us how to read basic female emotion and body language, which to this day, I still regularly misinterpret.
The thing is, we are never taught how to date or much about relationships. The schools want us to stand three feet apart from the opposite sex at all times and ignore the hormones that make us want to do the exact opposite.
Regardless of what the schools tried to do, we all dated anyway. In every stage of life, dating is different. My girlfriend(s) in kindergarten were great. The majority of our relationship was spent with me hogging her juice and her outrunning me on the playground, so obviously they were all pretty short-lived. Grade-school girlfriends were also pretty dope.
Lots of notes being passed and parent-monitored play dates. They usually ended with a note that said she held hands with Riley, and that she was his girlfriend now; to love and to lose.
It kind of upsets me that dating is so frowned upon in college. The media we see about college relationships is all about the “hookup culture.” So when we leave high school, we expect to get to college and start perpetuating the stereotypical college lifestyle.
I don’t need to define exactly what this term means. I’m sure you can use context clues to figure it out.We need to realize college is another preparation step for the real world, and in my opinion the most important one. I think part of this preparation needs to include dating. I’m not telling you to go out and try and find the love of your life, because it’s not necessarily that easy.
I even think failed relationships are an important part about preparing yourself for the future of adulthood.
How can we expect ourselves to hold healthy and mature relationships in the future, when we have never really had a serious relationship? I write frequently about how college is a time to be selfish. At this stage in our lives, we have a lot of time to spend but mostly time to invest. For the rest of our lives, it will be a give and take relationship between work and sanity and we won’t have the same amount of expendable time to invest into a relationship like we do in college.
As much as healthy relationships help us learn to be with someone, failed relationships help us learn how to cope and how to appreciate the healthy relationships when we find them.
Over the course of my life, I have lost a lot great T-shirts to terrible girls but each one of those experiences helped me realize what a healthy relationship is supposed to look and feel like.
Prepare yourselves for the future. Treat college like a sandbox for your future life and realize that part of that life will probably include a relationship. Be selfish with your time, but also invest it in things that will help you grow as a person. Treat your healthy relationships like they are few and far between and your failed ones as lessons learned.
Life is hard, but it’s a lot easier with the right person by your side. Remember that.
Column by Zac Garrison, Senior from Franklin, Ky.