In the spring of 2002, as I contemplated where I would attend college, I received acceptance letters from my top schools -- Indiana, Montana State, Montana, and Colorado. I waited to hear from Texas, as I decided that if I got in, I would be headed out of my home state of Indiana and down to Austin. Finally, I got in and jumped on the chance to become a Longhorn.
At the time, I had only a vague sense of the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry -- I knew that they played their annual grudge match on Thanksgiving and had sense the press coverage of the tragic bonfire collapse. I had never thrown my horns up at that point and would not learn to do so until orientation that summer.
Most of my high school classmates opted to stay in state, with many headed to Purdue or IU, a major reason why Indiana mostly became my back-up plan throughout the process -- I wanted new experiences, not reliving high school again daily when seeing people from those days every day on campus.
But there was one girl who decided to go to Texas A&M. I'm not sure why exactly she chose to trade the corn and soybean fields of Indiana for another agricultural setting. Perhaps the vague familiarity did the trick for her. I suspect it was more related to her personality.
I didn't care for this girl. At all. She had an overly inflated sense of self-worth, perhaps because she was a fairly competent student who took on-level classes, where her functioning grey matter helped set her apart from the other students. Having taken several classes with her, she wasn't nearly as smart as she thought she was. Mostly just reasonably competent.
And the intelligence she thought she possessed made her feel like she was always the center of attention. That she didn't need to fully form her thoughts before sharing them in class because they were so astoundingly awesome that coherence was a given. It was not.
Something about that delusion, the lack of connection to reality, always offended me deeply. I guess I can be rather self-righteous and delusion and injustice have always been the primary triggers.
Now, delusion is a hallmark of Aggie existence and it's impossible to know if her desire to live in an alternate reality with other Aggies made the decision to head to College Station easier, but it does seem remarkable that those personality traits made her such a fit at Texas A&M. In the spring of 2002, I had no way of knowing just how strong of a fit that would be for her.
Over the years, as I had more and more interactions with other Aggies, it all began to fit into place for me.
Back on a vacation a year or so later, I saw her driving around town with a "Saw 'Em Off" bumper sticker on the back of her car, which I always found to be the most obnoxious of automobile adornment for those wacky farmer fans.
It was the final straw for me, ever frustrated by those who seek only to define themselves against something, rather than for something. In the end, many Aggies choose to define themselves mostly as "Not Longhorns" instead of as Aggies. I choose to define myself as what I am -- I'm a Longhorn.
Just an anecdote, to be sure, but I can't get over the fact that the girl I found the most annoying in my entire graduating class of nearly 500 students ended up being an Aggie to the core. Perhaps it's an indication that I was a Longhorn to the core before I really knew it.