It’s my first official day of college. I sit at my desk in my dorm room working on a Spanish assignment. Distractedly, I fiddle with my pencil. The college group at the First Baptist Church had passed out fliers for a back-to-school part, and they were going to watch The Lion King and eat ice cream.
I really want to go. I love The Lion King. Besides, it’s my first day of college. I should go do something fun.
I set my pencil down and close my book. Now I just need to find someone to go with me.
I stick my head around my desk. “Hey Cassie?”
Studying at her desk, my roommate replies, “Yeah?”
I hesitate. “Would you, um, want to go to First Baptist with me and watch The Lion King in a bit? It starts at nine.”
She thinks for a moment. Then she says she should probably stay in; she might call her mom.
“Okay!” Bummer. I pull out my phone and text a few of my welcome week friends. None of them could go either.
Deciding I’ll just go by myself, I finish my homework and put on my shoes. I walk into the hallway and bump into my suite mate, Rachel. She asks me where I’m going and I told her.
“Oh, I think my roommate is going to that. Have you met Bre yet?”
I tell her I haven’t.
Rachel opens her door and tells Bre she found someone for her to go with. Bre comes out into the hallway and Rachel introduces us.
“Are you walking over?” She swings her bag over her shoulder. First Baptist is really close to campus.
“Uh, no. I was gonna drive. You can ride with me,” I offer.
She nods and we head out of the dorm.
Panic starts to sink in. I’m gonna drive a total stranger! We climb into my car and I force myself to make conversation with this girl. “So, what do you want to major in?”
My hands tremble as I start the engine. I take a deep breath and back up out of the parking lot.
As we approach the church, I start looking for the entrance. “I’m not sure where we’re going,” I admit. I quickly add, “Like, I know in theory where the church is, I’m just not sure where the parking lot is…” And it doesn’t help that it’s dark.
My eyes focus on the curb, waiting for it to open so I can pull in. Glancing back at the road, I realize we’re in the middle of an intersection… and the light’s red.
“THE LIGHT IS RED!” I quickly speed up and made it through. I look around frantically. Thankfully no other cars are around. “Oh my goodness! I just ran a red light. I JUST RAN A RED LIGHT!” With a stranger in my car! “I am so sorry! I promise I never ever run lights! I’m so sorry!”
Trying to make me feel better, Bre kinda laughs and says its okay.
I finally find where I pull in to the parking lot. Still shaking, I ask Bre if she sees where we’re supposed to go. She doesn’t, so we circle around the parking lot until we finally find the college house.
To make matters worse, I run over a curb in the process.
Completely embarrassed, I blurt out, “I promise I’m not a bad driver!!”
I’m such a bad driver.
We wander up to the house and see tall guys setting up a projector screen. “Oh cool, it’s going to be outside!”
We enter the house. Upperclassmen mill about, each holding a bowl of ice cream or a soda. We seem like the only freshmen, and I feel completely out of place. Bre and I find where the ice cream is, and, as I pick out my flavor, I try in vain to relax.
Someone announces that the movie is about to start, so Bre and I go back outside. We grab a blanket and some pillows and spread out in the grass.
The movie starts. I try to enjoy myself, but I’m still shaking. I can’t believe I just ran a red light. What must Bre think of me? Looking around, I also can’t believe that I’m watching The Lion King with an entire group of strangers. I take a deep breath and focus back on the movie.
Once the movie ends, we walk back to my car. I notice other cars taking a back road to campus. I tell Bre that I’m going to follow them to avoid the light. Plus, it looks faster this way.
We arrive back at our dorm and I apologize once again for the red light. She shakes her head, “Don’t worry about it. I’m sure we’ll laugh about it someday when we’re friends.”
My stomach flip-flops. Friends? I don’t think I’ll ever get up the nerve to talk to you again!
Well, my plan to never talk to Bre didn’t work out.
At least, not forever.
I successfully avoided her for about four months… but then around Christmas she and I reconnected and became good friends. In fact, Bre, Rachel (her roomie), Cassie (my roomie) and I became the best of friends and dubbed ourselves the “suities.”
Sometimes something embarrassing happens.
But don’t follow my example when it does.
Don’t go four months before you gain enough courage to talk to the person in front of whom you embarrassed yourself. You might just miss out time you could have spent making a cool friend.
And here’s the thing:
She doesn’t even remember.
I’ve brought up the story of the red light to Bre countless times. And each time she responds the same way: “What? You ran a red light?? I was there?? I don’t remember that!”
And then I have to retell her the above story, and end with “And then you said, ‘We’ll laugh about this someday when we’re friends.’ And I was like ‘I’m too embarrassed to be your friend!’ But clearly that didn’t last long…”
That is, unless you make it a really big deal or it’s something that happens to you in front of all your friends and then they may never let you forget it.
But typically, everyone else moves on.
So when you do silly things, don’t be afraid to laugh.
You might just make a good friend in the process :)