Caption "Lessons in Loss" above clouds low in the sky at sunset
Lessons in Loss

Lessons in Loss 1: Y

I think about loss from time to time, as you probably know if you’re a regular reader over here. I’ve discussed recovery from loss of a baby and other people’s reactions. But, we don’t only struggle or grieve over the loss of a person – whether they were fully-formed or not. Sometimes loss is part of growing into the person we have become, sometimes it leaves us feeling like something’s fundamentally missing, sometimes we can’t remember what it was like before we lost whatever it was. In this series of posts, I’ve asked some of my favourite blogging colleagues to write about a loss that they’ve experienced and how it affected them. You can find the full list here.

First up, is Lovely Bill from A Silly Place.

Losing my Y

First of all, many thanks to Smelly Socks and Garden Peas for inviting me to take part. I greatly enjoy her blog, and she’s a great supporter of what I do over at A Silly Place.

So here goes …

When I went to college, I lost my “y.”

No, not my “why,” as in the reason I do anything.

The actual letter “y,” as in the 25th letter of the alphabet, and the last letter of my first name.

Growing up, I had always been “Billy,” probably because my father is a Bill, and even now, when I go back, it’s not that unusual for people to call me that.

But when I was in college, I decided to drop it, to be “Bill.” It was a way to try and show I was an adult, and it worked a lot better than trying to grow a mustache, which, given the reaction when I shaved it right before graduation, probably cost me countless dates.

Yeah … it was the mustache.

Because sometimes we tell little lies to ourselves.

Making my way … my way

I didn’t have to go to college to learn basic responsibility.

My parents took care of that part, so I was mostly able to handle getting up in the morning, going to class, studying, going where I was supposed to be, doing what I said I would do and generally staying out of trouble on my own.

I even got up fairly early on weekends!

On the other hand, it would be too simple to say I was fully mature either the day I showed up on campus as a freshman or when I left four years later.

Heck … I graduated more than 25 years ago, and maturity is still something that escapes me from time to time. 

What college did do, however, was provide almost-daily lessons about making my way in a new environment after 13 years in the same small school — one where out of a graduating class of 99, approximately half were there from kindergarten through graduation.

Imagine leaving people you had known your entire life to start living in a small room with someone you had just met at orientation… or had just one phone call with before the semester started … or who was assigned to your room because your roommate from the first half of the year was on an off-campus internship.

Now multiply that environment by roughly 30 people on a floor, men and women of different races, different backgrounds, different interests.

Now multiply that by an entire campus of 1,600 students.

That’s a lot of stuff to figure out, to try and make work.

And a lot of times, you get it wrong. I know I did.

For example, I had an issue with one of my roommates. Instead of saying, “Hey man, I have a problem with this” and trying to come up with a solution, I went straight to the person in charge of the dorm.

We got it worked out, but it caused some unnecessary tension.

Yet for all the mistakes, the freedom was amazing.

Sure, I had classes and commitments — band for two years, radio station for four, trying not to be a jerk always — but I arrived with a clean slate. Who I was in high school, where I fit there … none of it mattered anymore.

Even though I was the same person, I wasn’t … the … same … person. There was enough room to find my own space.

And even better, there was room to find my own tribe, the amazing people with whom I shared four years of classes, sporting events, parties, video games, late-night pizza delivery, dates and crushes (mostly unsuccessful or unrequited on my part … sigh), success and failure and just the everyday experiences of young people trying to make their way.

In my case, without a “y.” 

17 thoughts on “Lessons in Loss 1: Y”

  1. Thanks for sharing! College is such a special time but also one fraught with so many life lessons. It is in tha tmoment that children finally turn into adults . It is the first time being away from home for so many of us. We often lose our innocence and childhood by going to college.
    Were you ever able to find your “y” again?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading! The loss of the “y” was an intentional one, so I never went back to it, and I’ve gone by Bill ever since. When I’m in the place where I grew up, people sometimes call me Billy, and that’s fine, but if someone I’ve met since college calls me that, I’m going to snap my head around because it would be a surprise.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi SS&GP and Bill(y). What a great post. It’s a strange thing when you go to university/college – you go there thinking that you are already fully ‘grown-up’ … and then you grow-up some more! I well remember my time at uni (even though it, too, was more than 25 years ago) and the social interactions that went on when you have so many varied characters all crammed into a small area. Fun times 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A really cool idea to share the experiences of others here.

    Thank you for sharing this, Bill – I’ve never stayed in a dorm, nor tried to grow a mooooostash, but it’s interesting to get your perspective on it and what it was like, that change in identity as you’re thrown among new people and find a new tribe, where you’ve got the space to grow into yourself in a whole new way. x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! I have long believed that learning in class is why you’re there, and should be the most-important thing, there is a lot more stuff you can learn outside the classroom.

      Liked by 2 people

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