Illustration by Stehpanie McCoy for 22 West

It’s A Different World

Rewinding through 5 years at Long Beach State

By Paul Aninyei, Contributor

As my college career approaches the end and the finish line comes into view, I fondly (and not so fondly) look back on memories and experiences that included life changing classes, best friends that only lasted a semester, awesome animated shows and the many times I thought about dropping out.

This is my fifth year in college. Five years seems like a long time and it is. For five years, I’ve spent thousands of dollars commuting. I’ve taken night, afternoon and always regrettably, morning classes. Most of my professors were good, a few were spectacular (thanks, Rate My Professor) and some were just meh. I enjoyed film classes the most. Most of the movies I viewed (classic, modern, domestic, international, live action and animated) were mind-boggling and satisfying. But I’d be lying if I said I enjoyed every movie I watched in class; I’d fallen asleep watching a couple of them. Nonetheless, the films were entertaining and enlightening. The most important part of my experience were the writing classes. These were the places where the pen touched paper, where fingers touched keys to create a script. A lot of my lessons from screenwriting came from teaching myself, Google and the immense amount of information from the web. Thanks to the patience of my passionate professors, my writing and confidence as a writer grew.

Yeah, five years is a long time, but it also feels kind of short. It feels like it was just yesterday when I was a freshman at Santa Monica College, successfully crashing my first media class. I was enrolled in the class thanks to one of the guys who was on the waitlist; he was late because of bad parking (haha to that sucker). Now I’m a seasoned and more cynical senior of the college system; I’m both excited and scared to graduate, to start a new journey in the “real world.” To invoke the name of the greatest TV show about college ever, it’s a different world. To me, college is kind of a bubble and now that I’m a senior who’s not interested in grad school, that bubble is about to burst.

College graduate sure does have a nice ring to it.

After spending half a decade writing essays, reading massive amounts of text, procrastinating on almost every major project and missing hours of sleep, I’m excited to move on. I’m excited to start a career doing something I love, to find more time to learn my native language (Igbo), travel, cook and spend time with family. I’m excited to apply all the knowledge, skills and experience I gained in college towards bettering myself and my community. I’m excited about being on the verge of accomplishing a long-term goal of graduating from college. College graduate sure does have a nice ring to it.

However I’m scared that it might take me forever to find a good job after graduation. I’m scared of the “real world” and how unforgiving I think it might be. I’m scared of the extra obstacles I’ll have to face as a black man in this country. I’m scared that it’ll be a long time before I can buy my mom a house.

As I reached the end of my junior year, feelings of whether college was worth it began to form in my mind. This was partially because, in the grand scheme of things, I didn’t need a college degree to be a good writer and have a career in in the entertainment industry. I thought I was wasting so much time going to classes, when I could have been somewhere else writing and creating short films. I saw people who were around my age or younger doing well in their respective creative spaces who never attended college. Despite all this, I’m grateful for not giving up as the people I have met while in college have helped and guided me to develop better writing skills that have helped me finish my first film script.

I’m both elated and terrified for the future. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything.

As I look back on my college career, I often wonder how my life would be different up to this point if I’d been more outgoing and took more chances. How would my college experience be different if I had dormed? Would I have made more friends? Would my friendships and bonds with people last more than a semester? Would it have been easier for me to keep in touch with people? I wish I would’ve gone to at least one or two college parties or had been more confident and direct to the women I liked. Even if I was rejected, I could at least feel good knowing that I tried.

I wish I’d break the deadly habit of procrastination, partially responsible for many Bs that could and should have been As. Like any journey, mine has been filled with bumps and wrong turns. I’m both elated and terrified for the future. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. They have made me strong, helped me grow and made me wise. They have made me who I am. My main goal now is to develop effective habits that’ll help me be successful after college. Because after college, the bubble bursts… and I’m off to a different world.