I, with all my courage and gusto, with pen in hand and mind a flurry, have braved to turn back the clock and relive one of the most harrowing events in all of our lives…freshman year.

I spent weeks preparing. Studying the lives of freshman, their mannerism and movements. Trying to understand who they were. What made them act the way they do? And why, in god’s name, did I agree to do this?

I made my preparations for what classes I would attend. For whose life I would step into. How I would spend my 24 hours. (My editor vetoed the idea of sleeping the whole day).

I found and studied the others I would spend my time with, the so-called friends of my prey. I would need to understand them so as to not raise suspicion when I replaced my catch.

Even though I knew it was only for a day, I feared like I had never feared before. I spent the whole night before awake, terrified of the unknown standing before me. On Monday September 11, 2017, I stepped into my new life.

I left my room, a freshman. Wide eyed, doughy faced, doughy bodied. Just really, really doughy. I stepped into the sun trying to find some metaphor for what it was like. Who was I like. Was I an explorer trying to brave the great white north in search of glory? Was I a man staring into the darkness in an attempt to find himself? Or was I nothing? Only time would tell how this day would shape me.

I headed to my first class and found it to be really boring. And I began to wonder if that’s what this life was. Were freshmen boring? Was I boring? The class ended before I found my answer. Before I even got close.

Lunch proved to be almost my undoing. In the crowds of people, I almost forgot I was a freshman now. I saw someone I knew from my old life and almost said hi to them. But that day, in that life, I didn’t know them. So I went and sat with the people I was supposed to consider my friends. It was tricky and they almost saw through my disguise. But I was able to fool them through clever use of complaining—and they were none the wiser.

But even then I still wondered who was I becoming, who were the freshman? I was alone. I didn’t know anyone know. I found myself looking in a mirror and not recognizing the reflection. I wasn’t even sure of my own name anymore.

My day was at an end. I retired to my room and began to write about my day. When I began, I didn’t think it would be this dark and complex. It was supposed to be light and about how easy it is to be a freshman. And, yes, it was. It was super easy to be a freshman. People don’t expect you to know things and are nicer to you. That part was nice.

But during all that niceness, I found something else: That freshmen… are people, too. I had approached this task like Jane Goodall and her gorillas. But I found that they weren’t animals, that they had feelings and dreams just like you or I.

And now when asked if I would go back to do it again, I only have one answer. Fuck no.

Kellen Lieb can be reached at


Leave A Reply