I didn't have high hopes for coming to school here. I thought I could get a good education at a fairly well-known school close to home and be out in four years. I looked at U.Va., saw the stereotype, and blindly decided it wasn't for me.
But I have found the farther into life I travel, the more my previously held beliefs are replaced as I discover more and realize life isn't at all how I thought it would be.
You see, when I started school here, I looked at who I thought was the average student and decided I wouldn't get along with him. I looked at the Rugby Road crowd and only saw a collection of self-constructed stereotypes. Instead of seeing groups of friends laughing, having fun and meeting new people, I saw crowds of desperate girls in tight skirts and parties filled with shirtless guys shouting a lot.
Instead of going out during weekends, I stayed in. I fancied myself an intellectual, separated from the crowd of sameness. I scoffed as my hallmates proceeded out the door late on Thursday nights, turning myself to the more refined pursuits of homework.
I remember vaguely trying to convince myself there was a way to meet new people by staying locked up in my room all weekend. Surely someone had to walk through the door and announce, "Hello, yes, I am here now... your new best friend! Let's sit here and do homework all night, shall we?"
I don't know what I was thinking.
Sometime around Winter Break, I started to come out from this shell. I started taking part in friends' festivities, meeting people and, for the first time since getting to school here, started to have fun. In short, I figured out everything which everyone else learned the first week of school.
When I got back to school, it was as if U.Va. was a whole new world. I started talking to the girls on my hall and quickly realized they were some of the funniest and sweetest people I've ever met. I've started friendships with them which will last far beyond college.
More than simply shedding my judgmental, reclusive persona, however, I started to go out with these friends during weekends. If you had told me this in September, I would have balked at the idea.
I have never liked the idea of partying. As I once so charmingly put it, "Why would I voluntarily go out for the sole purpose of attempting to lose consciousness?"
I looked at the partiers, and I saw the stereotype, not the possibilities. I had built up a box of imagined beliefs which, as soon as I stepped out of it, I realized was completely made up. The world wasn't at all like I had thought.
Of course, I still see those disgusting girls and those obnoxious bros. But it isn't all like that.
You can, I discovered with the delight which only accompanies the departure from true ignorance, just go out during the weekend to have fun with your friends. It isn't like the movies or like the horror stories you hear from your neighbors, or your friend's mom.
At the frat where my friends and I spend most of our time, my prior beliefs are quickly melting away with each brother I get to meet.
Really, the only thing which I now know for sure is people and experiences will constantly astonish you, if only you give them the opportunity to. And if this means you have to admit you were wrong and step outside your comfort zone, do it. Life will always surprise you.
Emily's column runs biweekly Wednesdays. She can be reached at email@example.com.