Tuesday, May 6, 2014

My Farewell to Life as an Undergrad

For months, I have known that I wanted to write something that would somehow boil down my entire 4-year, undergraduate experience into one short post. My plan was to take each building on the campus of Southern Miss and share my favorite memory that was made in said building. When I started writing that post, it was just a little too dull and simple... like me. So, I decided to start all over and do something different, although I still did not know what that would encompass. Now, I'm here writing, and I have no idea what I'm doing really. However, I will push on with my writing and hopefully come up with something decent for you to read (because graduation is just 3 days away). Needless to say, everything, from this point on, will likely be extremely random and there may be a good bit of rambling (even more so than you have already witnessed). But, I'm hopeful that this post will give you some sort of idea of how much the past four years have helped mold me and grow me, in a way that I never expected.

Whether or not you really know me, you could probably gather that I'm not the kind of person who reacts to situations with extreme emotion. While I do have emotions, what most people would consider "life-changing" events rarely have that "life-changing" effect on me, personally. With that being said, going to college was not something that initially shook my life up or opened my eyes or anything like that. In fact, when I first arrived at Southern Miss, I felt like I was at a very, very extended summer camp. I was learning new things, meeting new people, and sleeping in a different bed, and every other freshman was in the exact same boat. However, I did know that there was something magical about Southern Miss and college in general. I first realized it when my butt (and everything else) was soaked in gold paint, as I flailed across the hard, Eagle Walk concrete. I know the streets of heaven are already gold, but, when I get there, I'll be painting my entitled share of the road a different hue... with my butt. I don't know why, but that experience was the most freeing thing that I have ever done (and I still have my gold shorts to show for it). From that point on, I was hooked!

For two years, I lived on campus, which I wouldn't trade for anything in the world. There were many Nerf wars, sporting events, movie-viewings, and random trips to Wal Mart, each of which was likely distracting from impending homework. I met so, so many amazing people, from fellow students to faculty to staff and so forth. Never again will I have the opportunity to live like I lived on campus, and, while I am still hopeful for the future, that does sadden me a bit.

As time went on, I made so many potentially life-altering decisions, some of which did not appear to be so important at the time. I moved off campus, into an apartment. I accepted and turned down jobs that could have shaped my career in very different ways. I only changed my major once, but I still change my goals for life pretty much every day. I learned how to actually write, which ultimately lead to this blog. I spent a lot of time with a great girl, who I eventually proposed to (inside the fountain at the Trent Lott Center on campus). I had the opportunity to serve so many awesome junior high and high school kids at my church that I've been able to mature alongside (at very different levels!). I poured my heart into many great sporting events and served my university through various on-campus organizations. I learned a lot about business, movies, TV, people, God, sports, writing, women, Tanner, procrastination, Southern Miss, teenagers, swimming pools, parking violations, and just life in general.

Now, as I sit here in the library, writing about my feelings, it's easy to see how my time at Southern Miss has not been a temporary experience, but, instead, it has become my life. A few weeks ago, when life got a bit overwhelming, I rode over to campus, left my phone in the car, and spent some time talking with God and calming my anxious spirit. Before I went, I didn't really think about why I went to campus, when I could have just gone to my room or the church or even just stayed in my car. I realized, as I walked around and prayed, that there will never be another place in the world that fills me with as much comfort and serenity as the campus of The University of Southern Mississippi. There is no way to adequately explain why that is, because there truly is some sort of magic about Southern Miss that fits perfectly with the very small part of me that believes in "magical" things and feelings. In case none of that made sense, I was trying to say that this place is pretty freaking awesome.

Looking back, four years later, I'm preparing for yet another "summer camp" experience, where I introduce something brand new into my life. At first, it's sure to feel awkward and temporary, but, as time goes by, it will become my life. Do I know where I'm headed?... Not at all. Am I ready?... I don't know. But, I know that God will guide my path, and, if all else fails, I will always find comfort in his arms and in the arms of The University of Southern Mississippi...

I could have gone on forever, but, instead, here are a few pictures for you, because they are worth 1,000 words...

I caught a We the Kings drumstick at Eaglepalooza... pretty cool stuff!

Sweet thang's graduation (the first one)

Diligent studying in Apartment 178E

I ate nothing else for my entire freshman year

 We locked the keys in the car after I spilt Sprite on my leg... what a memory

Not planned

Me and sweet thang on the fake friendship oak

Freshman Finale 2010 (that was four years ago!)
We are so old!

We were kicked and beaten by the students sitting behind us, but we overcame!

Trying to mimic the football poster from that season

We look good... Eagles for Phil!

We actually beat Memphis (I'm in there somewhere)

My 21st birthday... Rockette-style

Gatti Town... The casino for kids!

My last day on the Judicial Board... Fun memories

Baseball... We still look good

Me proposing...
This is not a re-enactment...
She had no idea what was going on...
She was just taking my picture because she dared me to get in the fountain, and I did!

Without my parents and football, who knows if I ever become a Golden Eagle...

Peace out, undergrads! Catch you on the flippity flop... Southern Miss To The Top!!! (That rhymed)


  1. Great post man, and congratulations on graduating. For me, being done with college was something I didn't fully measure the impact of until years later. It's a big, big life moment that you'll always remember and be proud of. I really liked the final paragraph of your post. Very few people actually know where they're headed after college. I sure didn't. But it's been six years since I graduated (oh my god, six years...), and I love life now more than ever.

    Enjoy the ride.

    1. Thanks, man! It has certainly been a tough one for me to swallow. I have already been to campus twice this week ha.

      But, I greatly appreciate your encouraging words. In six years, I hope to your life-loving situation!